Divorce And College Financial Aid: FAFSA Tips For Divorced Or Separated Parents

College: As many parents know, college is expensive and financial aid can be difficult to obtain.  If you are getting divorced or you are already divorced, this just adds another level of complexity to the college financial aid maze. Here are some tips that will help you navigate this maze.

#1 Make sure to Fill Out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form as early as possible and correctly. In almost every college, you need to fill out the FAFSA to be considered for any type of financial aid, including, grants, loans, scholarships and work-study programs. It is important to fill out the FAFSA form as soon as possible. It is doubly-important to make sure that the form is filled out correctly. If you have trouble filling out the FAFSA form, there are resources and agencies that can help. You may also want to ask your child’s school if they have any resources to help parents fill out the FAFSA form.

#2 Which parent to put down on the FAFSA form. There are a few scenarios in deciding which parent to list on the FAFSA form.

  • Parents are divorce or separated and do not live together: Then you only list the custodial parent’s income on the form. As it pertains to the FAFSA form, the custodial parent MAY be different than what the divorce agreement states. For purposes of FAFSA, the custodial parent is the one that the child live with most in the last 12 months.
  • Parents are divorced or separated, but, they still live together. Here, you have to list both parent’s income on the form.
  • Parents are divorced, do not live together, and the custodial parent is now remarried. You have to list your step-parent’s income as well as the custodial parent on the form.
  • Always double-check with the Department of Education on their latest rules. The Department of Education may change its rules. They also have some good tools in helping you complete the form.

#3 Child Support versus Alimony (spousal maintenance). You have to state how much child support the custodial parent either received or paid on the FAFSA form. However, you do not have to state how much alimony you received or paid, that is because alimony is already included (or deducted) from your taxable income and is already on the FAFSA form. Do not make the common mistake of listing both child support and alimony.

#4 Recent Divorce and lead to trouble. If the divorce is recent, then this may lead to a FAFSA error. If the newly divorced parents filed a joint tax return in the last tax year, then the tax information will not reflect the fact that they are now divorced and they have separate incomes. In these situations, it is especially important to consult with a financial aid expert to make sure that the FAFSA form is correctly filled out.

David Badanes, Esq. has the knowledge and resource to help you get through divorce and the college financial maze. If you are thinking of getting divorced, contact the Badanes Law Office.  Call 631-239-1702 or email at david@dbnylaw.com. The Badanes Law Office has offices in Northport, Garden City, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

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