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Whose Income Do I Use on the FAFSA When My Parents Are Divorced?

Are you filling out the FAFSA to get financial aid for college? Are you trying to figure out what income information to provide for your parents where they are divorced and you are living with one of them?

That can get confusing, but fortunately here is the answer. You only include the income of your “custodial parent,” which includes any alimony and/or child support paid by the noncustodial parent.

Who Is the Custodial Parent?

But who is your “custodial parent”? Well, it is not necessarily the one that has legal custody. It is one of the following:

  • the parent with whom you resided for the greater portion of the 12-month period preceding the date of the FAFSA application;
  • if you did not live with one parent more than the other, then it is the parent who provided the greater portion of the student’s support for the 12-month period preceding the date of the FAFSA application; or
  • if you have not received support from either parent in the past 12 months, then the parent who provided the greater support during the most recent calendar year for which parental support was provided.

What About the Non-Custodial Parent?

But what about the “noncustodial parent”? Does his or her income ever come into play? Yes! Although the federal government does not consider the income and assets of the non-custodial parent in determining a student's financial need, many private colleges do.

Private colleges consider the non-custodial parent as a potential source of support, and require a supplemental financial aid form from the non-custodial parent. Naturally, this only affects the awarding of the school's own aid, not federal and state aid, but you should have that information handy in case you need it.

More Information

If you are looking for more information about federal financial aid for college, then download my free book, Applying for Federal Financial Aid: The Definitive Guide for Students and Parents.

For more information about what happens after you graduate, get my free book, I Graduated; Now What? A Guide to Dealing with Your Student Loans.

You can also access the latest news on student loans, get answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and read articles in my Library. Continue to educate yourself as you go through the process of making smart decisions about college financing!

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