Before you fill out the FAFSA, make sure your family is eligible to receive federal financial aid. To receive aid, your child must …
Financial aid is typically based on both the parents' and student's income and assets. Most students entering college directly from high school are considered dependent students, which means that the parent is expected to contribute to the child's educational expenses.
You may have heard that if your child declares independence, only his or her income and assets will be considered, resulting in a larger financial aid package. This is true, but specific rules govern whether a student is considered independent for the purposes of financial aid.
A student is considered independent only if one of the following criteria applies. He or she must…
If the parents are divorced, the FAFSA should be completed with information from the parent with whom the child lived for the majority of the past 12 months. (It does not matter which parent claims the child as a dependent for tax purposes.) If the child did not live with either parent or spent an equal amount of time with the two parents, the parental information on the FAFSA must be provided for the parent from whom the child received the most financial support during the preceding 12 months or the parent from whom the child received the most support in the last 12-month period during which support was given. If the parent providing the information has remarried, the stepparent's information is also required. A stepparent is considered a part of the student's family and therefore is expected to contribute to the student's educational expenses.
The paper-based FAFSA form is being phased out in favor of the online application. To access the FAFSA on the Web, log on to the U.S. Department of Education's web site at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. Filing the FAFSA electronically has several advantages:
Gen and Kelly Tanabe
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