I will be filling out the FAFSA soon for my daughter who will be attending college next fall. My question is regarding her father, who is my ex-husband. Her father does not pay child support and has not supported her financially since our divorce 5 years ago. Do I have to include his financial information, or any of his information, on the FAFSA? Also, I have remarried, and my daughter lives with me and her stepfather. Do I have to include her stepfather's information, both financial and personal, on the FAFSA? — Kari L.When a student’s parents are divorced or separated, only the custodial parent’s information needs to be included on the FAFSA. The custodial parent is not defined as the parent who has legal custody. Rather, for the purposes of the FAFSA, it is the parent with whom the student lived with the most over the past 12 months. In this case, the custodial parent is you, and because you have remarried, your partner’s information must be included because he is a part of the household in which the student resides. There are no exceptions to this rule, not even a prenuptial agreement. This particular scenario does not apply to all similar situations. For instance, if your daughter lived with both you and your ex-husband equally, then the custodial parent would be the one that provided the most financial support in the past 12 months. Financial support includes food, clothing, housing, car payments and expenses, auto insurance, medical and dental care and insurance, college costs, money, gifts and loans.If parents split financial support for the student equally – or if neither parent provided support – during the last 12-month period, then the custodial parent is considered the one who provided the most support during the most recent calendar year. It is pretty rare that a student lives equally and is supported equally by both parents. However, if that happens, it is up to the college’s financial aid administrator to determine which parent is considered the custodial parent. They will typically choose the parent with the greater income.If the student has had no financial support or significant contact with the non-custodial parent for an extended period of time, some colleges will enact a dependency override in order to treat the student as independent. But the scenario highlighted above is very rare. It's worth mentioning here that separation is treated the same as divorce when you’re filling out the FAFSA. The separation does not need to be a legal separation. Informal separations are considered a legitimate separation for financial aid purposes. However, colleges will require proof of a legal or informal separation. Having a parent live in a hotel room, or with friends and family, is not considered sufficient for making a case of separation. Be very careful when completing the FAFSA under these circumstances. Though it would be financial advantageous for the lower income parent to complete the application, if they are not the custodial parent, it would be considered fraud. If the college believes that you are falsifying information, they will not only withhold financial aid – but they will also have to report fraud to the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Education for further investigation. Criminal penalties for financial aid fraud include fines of up to $20,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 5 years, in addition to a return of the fraudulently obtained student aid funds.
Your Social Security Number
Parents’ Social Security Numbers
The Date of Your Parents' Divorce or Separation
Your Driver's License Number Or Your Alien Registration Number, if not a U.S. Citizen
Federal Tax Information for You and Your Custodial Parent/Reporting Parent
Information about Untaxed Income, Such as Child Support, Received by Your Reporting Parent
Information on Cash and Liquid Assets in Accounts, Investments, and Business Income
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