A Guide to Reporting Parent Info on your FAFSA

If you’re planning on going to college this fall, you will definitely want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). The FAFSA not only gives you access to grants and loans from the federal government, but many states and schools also use information from the FAFSA to award their financial aid.

If you are considered a dependent student for the purposes of the FAFSA, you are required to provide information about your parent(s) on the application. (Note: The dependency guidelines for the FAFSA are set by Congress and are different than those used on your tax return.) You might be wondering which parent’s information to report or what you should do if your parents are divorced, remarried, or if you live with another family member.

Don’t worry; we can help you figure out whose information to include. For a quick visual reference, check out our infographic, Who’s My Parent When I Fill Out the FAFSA?


Or, if you want to more information, here are some guidelines. Unless noted, “parent” means your legal (biological or adoptive) parent.

  • If your parents are living and legally married to each other, answer the questions about both of them.
  • If your parents are living together and are not married, answer the questions about both of them.
  • If your parents are divorced or separated and don’t live together, answer the questions about the parent with whom you lived more during the past 12 months. If you lived the same amount of time with each parent, give answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months or during the most recent year that you actually received support from a parent. If you have a stepparent who is married to the legal parent whose information you’re reporting, you must provide information about that stepparent as well.

The following people are not considered your parents on your FAFSA unless they have adopted you: grandparents, foster parents, legal guardians, older brothers or sisters, and uncles or aunts.

If you still have questions or are unsure what to do if your parents are unable or unwilling to provide their information for your FAFSA, you can get more information at StudentAid.ed.gov/fafsa/filling-out/parent-info.

Tara Marini is a communication analyst at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.


  1. I moved out of my mother’s house last year to go to school. I was forced to use her income last year, now this year I live at college most of the time and with my dad during brakes. Do I still have to use my mother’s income this year. She no longer claims me on taxes and we dont have much contact.

  2. What about if I am a parent of a child that will be applying for aid in the upcoming year but I am also attending school and will like to apply for aid my self will he not qualify ? Will he run into any problems ? Will they offer him less ? Is it smarter to wait for him to apply first ?

  3. What if you are legal guardian and the parents have left the state and have no parental rights?

  4. Sounds like a larger subsidy to the children of divorced parents. If mom and dad stay together our govt. counts both incomes but if they split then only one counts. I don’t think this sends the right message to parents.

  5. What about FAFSA awards to seniors over 65 who wants to continue post graduate education? Is FAFSA or any other program available?

    Thank you,

  6. What happens if a parent is unwilling to provide financial information, or personally identifying information due to privacy concerns?

    Also, what to do if a parent completed earlier FASFA, the student got no grant and was not economically needy, and parent sees no value in filling out the FASFA?

    • Mark, you don’t need the parent info if you are on your own. If you live with them and they support you and are unwilling to provide the info, then they apparently aren’t willing to help you and you should be your own. No one cares about privacy issues for the FAFSA. Because everyone in the country fills this out. It’s used by every college to figure out your level of financial assistance for college.

    • There are many aspects of your financial sitution as well as the availability of financial aid that can change from year to year. It is always advisable to reapply each year.

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