If you’re planning to go to college in fall 2016, you will definitely want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Not only does the FAFSA give 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’re 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 from those used on tax returns.) You might be wondering which parent’s information to report or what you should do if your parents are divorced or 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 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 12 months 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.
Curious about what information you and your parents will need to provide on the FAFSA? Learn more about the FAFSA and how to fill it out at StudentAid.gov/fafsa.
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-parent.
Tara Marini is a data and communications analyst, and Cindy Forbes Cameron is a lead communications analyst, at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.