Parents & Family on the FAFSA

What if my parents are divorced or separated?

You need to provide information about only one parent. Usually, this is the parent you live with the most. If you split time between your parents equally, use the parent who provides most of your financial support. If the parent on your FAFSA form has remarried, you need to include your step-parent’s information too.

What if my parents live together but aren’t married?

If they are your parents, by birth or adoption, you need to provide information on both of them. You do not include adults who are not related to you, even if they are close family members or support you.

What if I live with a relative or family friend?

It depends on whether the person you are living with, like your grandmother or aunt, has a legal relationship with you. If your relative has adopted you, you can report their information on the FAFSA. If that person is your legal guardian, you are independent and do not have to report any parental information. You will need to find this out before filling out the FAFSA form. The online form will ask a series of questions to help you. If you are confused for any reason, you should talk to a counselor or call the FAFSA hotline.

I know where my parents are, but have no contact. What do I do?

You may be a candidate for a “Dependency Override.” This is for students who are technically “dependent” on their parents but have no contact with them, or are justifiably afraid of contacting them. Use this option as a last resort. It is hard to get a dependency override. See here for more information.

If my parents help me fill out the FAFSA form, are they required to help me pay for college?

No. Your parents do not have to help you pay for college, no matter how much they earn. It is their choice. This may ease their minds if they are worried about giving you their income information for the FAFSA. Just let them know you must fill out this form to get financial aid.

I think I am an independent student on the FAFSA. What now?

The online FAFSA form will ask you a series of questions to determine this. Don’t worry, you are still completely eligible for college financial aid. The FAFSA form will ask different questions if you are independent. You will be asked about your income and household. You will not need to provide information about your parents.

Will I get more money if I’m independent of my parents?

Probably not. It may seem strange, but you are likely to get more financial aid if you depend on your parents. Answer the questions about your parents as truthfully as you can on the form.

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