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Quick Answers to Common Questions about Financial Aid

Mark Kantrowitz

April 01, 2013

Financial aid is an inherently complicated topic. Sometimes students and parents have questions that may seem obvious to people who have more experience with financial aid. But they can’t find the answers they need. This week’s Ask Kantro column addresses several such questions.

Hi. I was wondering how or where you can apply for the federal supplemental educational opportunity grant. I can’t seem to find out? I already filled out my FAFSA. I did qualify for a Pell Grant. Any info would be great. — C.T.

Students apply for the federal supplemental educational opportunity grant (FSEOG) by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FSEOG is a form of campus-based aid, where the college’s financial aid administrator decides which students will receive the grant and how much they will receive. FSEOG funding is also limited, so there is usually not enough money for every eligible student to receive the grant.

The FAFSA excludes the primary residence as an asset, but what about income property held in a revocable trust, where the trust is owner and parent is beneficiary? Is that defined as an asset on the FAFSA? — L.W.

Trust funds are almost always counted as an asset on the FAFSA. The only exception is an involuntary trust established by court order, such as a trust fund to pay for future medical expenses of an accident victim. A revocable trust is voluntary in nature and as such must be reported as an asset on the FAFSA. The nature of the assets held in the trust does not affect this requirement.

My daughter is attending a university in Florida. I just remarried, but my new husband doesn’t want to be used in or on the financial aid forms. He doesn’t want to be responsible for my daughter or her expenses. We file taxes together and I use all of my disability checks to take care of her. Is there any way to file using just my information? — V.M.

When the custodial parent has remarried as of the FAFSA application date, the income and assets of the stepparent must be reported on the FAFSA. There are no exceptions, not even if the custodial parent and stepparent were not married until after the end of the previous year. The stepparent’s information is required even if there is a prenuptial agreements. The requirement to include stepparent information on the FAFSA appears in section 475(f)(3) of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Filing the FAFSA, however, does not obligate the stepparent to pay for the student’s education. But the stepparent should realize that the student will likely qualify for less financial aid because of the stepparent’s income and assets.


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