Who Is the Parent Of Record On the FAFSA Starting In 2024-25?

Award Year: 2024-25 KA-36530 Helpfulness Rating 23,790 page views

This guidance is specific to the 2024-25 award year and later.

This AskRegs Knowledgebase Q&A was updated on February 22, 2024 to include a minor change to when neither parent provides support in the 12 months prior to filing the FAFSA.

Effective with the 2024-25 award year, the parent of record (primary parent) on the FAFSA is noted below. You will notice that the parent with whom the student lived the most in the past 12 months prior to filing the FAFSA is no longer a criterion for divorced or separated parents. For divorced or separated parents, income and assets are reported for the parent who provides the most financial support over the 12 months prior to filing the FAFSA even if the student does not live with that parent or lives with the other parent. The parent of record is self-reported on the FAFSA by the student/parent, and unless there is conflicting information, there is no requirement for the school to verify or otherwise confirm which parent provides the greater portion of support or if the correct parent is reported on the FAFSA.

See Section 475(f) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended [20 USC 1087OO Amendment of Section]:

"(f) Consideration of parental income
(1) Parents who live together
Parental income and assets in the case of student whose parents are married and not separated, or who are unmarried but live together, shall include the income and assets of both parents.

(2) Divorced or separated parents
Parental income and assets for a student whose parents are divorced or separated, but not remarried, is determined by including only the income and assets of the parent who provides the greater portion of the student's financial support.

(3) Death of a parent
Parental income and assets in the case of the death of any parent is determined as follows:
(A) If either of the parents has died, the surviving parent shall be considered a single parent, until that parent has remarried.
(B) If both parents have died, the student shall not report any parental income or assets.

(4) Remarried parents
If a parent whose income and assets are taken into account under paragraph (2), or if a parent who is a widow or widower and whose income is taken into account under paragraph (3), has remarried, the income of that parent's spouse shall be included in determining the parent's assessment of adjusted available income if the student's parent and the stepparent are married as of the date of application for the award year concerned.

(5) Single parent who is not divorced or separated
Parental income and assets in the case of a student whose parent is not described in paragraph (1) and is a single parent who is not divorced, separated, or remarried, shall include the income and assets of such single parent."

According to the FAFSA and confirmation NASFAA has received from the U.S, Department of Education (ED), the parent of record for a divorced or separated parent is as follows:

  1. The parent of record is the parent who provided the greater portion of the student's financial support during the 12 months immediately prior to filing the FAFSA.
  2. If neither parent provided support in the last 12 months immediately prior to filing the FAFSA, the parent of record is the parent with the greater amount of income and assets.
  3. If both parents claim an equal amount of support, then the parent of record is the parent with the greater amount of income and assets (updated from "or" to "and" on the final FAFSA).

Whose Support Is Used: Per ED, when determining the FAFSA parent of record when the parents are not married to each other, you determine the parent of record separately from whose information is reported on the FAFSA. You start by looking only at each individual biological/adoptive parent’s financial support without regard to any stepparent's income or support. Then, after that determination is made, if the parent of record is remarried at the time of FAFSA completion, the spouse’s/stepparent’s income and assets are included on the FAFSA. In other words, in a scenario where one or both of the biological/adoptive parents have remarried (someone other than the other biological/adoptive parent), the new spouse’s/stepparent’s support is not included when determining the parent of record, but the new spouse of the parent of record is included on the FAFSA.

For example, if the student's mother has remarried, you only look at her own financial support for the student (without her spouse's income, assets, or support). Using her own income and assets, if she provides more of the student's support than the biological father, then the mother is the parent of record on the FAFSA. Then, when completing the FAFSA, the mother's spouse includes their information, income, and assets, on the FAFSA.

Child Support In Parent of Record Determinations: According to guidance NASFAA has received from ED, starting in 2024-25, the parent who pays child support should include the amount of child support paid during the relevant 12-month period when determining which parent is the parent of record based on providing more than half of the student's support. For example, if the mother is paying the child support to the father, that child support counts as part of the mother's (not the father's) support for the child. If this child support, along with any other support provided for the child by the mother, adds up to more than 50% of the support of the child, then the mother is the parent of record on the FAFSA. See AskRegs Knowledgebase Q&A, Who Is the Parent Of Record When One Parent Pays Child Support To Another Parent? (Award Year: 2024-25) 

Update Note: In it's Better FAFSA Better Future Q&A 1 webinar (Q&A 28), ED initially indicated in #2 above that, if neither parent provided support in the 12-month period immediately prior to filing the FAFSA, the parent of record was the parent who provided the greater portion of support during the most recent year that the student received financial support from a parent. That was a misstatement based on pre-2024-25 guidance.

AskRegs Q&As represent NASFAA's understanding of regulatory and compliance issues. They are FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY. While NASFAA believes AskRegs Q&As are accurate and factual, they have not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). If you should need written confirmation of AskRegs information for audit or program review purposes, please contact your ED School Participation Division. NASFAA shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein; nor for incidental or consequential damages resulting from the furnishing, performance, or use of this material.