This guidance is specific to the 2024-25 award year and later. For 2023-24* award year guidance see AskRegs Q&A, Whose Information Is Provided On the FAFSA If Three Parents Live In the Same Household?
Scenario: A student's parents are divorced and still living in the same household, and one of the parents has remarried. There are three parents in the household--two biological parents and one stepparent. This parent could actually answer the FAFSA marital status question as "divorced," "unmarried but living together," or "remarried" depending on whose information must be provided.
Answer: You would first have to look at the financial support provided to the student by each of the individual biological parents. If the remarried parent (not including any support provided by their spouse) provided the greater portion of the student's financial support over the 12 months prior to filing the FAFSA, then that parent's and the stepparent's/spouse's information is included on the FAFSA. If the divorced/unremarried biological parent provided the greater portion of the student's support over the 12 months prior to filing the FAFSA, then only that parent's information is provided on the FAFSA.
NASFAA confirmed this response with the U.S. Department of Education (ED). ED stated, "We understand that this might be difficult in practice to do since it may be hard to separate out what the parent and stepparent individually contribute to the student, especially if their finances are very commingled, but hopefully this will be a fairly rare situation.
So again, in [this scenario], the FAA/family would consider which parent supports the student more—if it’s the single parent, that person’s data goes on the FAFSA, and if it’s the remarried parent, that person’s and the stepparent’s data go on the FAFSA. And remember, in either case, the FAA could of course use PJ to account for support by the parent who is not included on the FAFSA."
This is supported by the language under "Which parent should include information?" in the FAFSA instructions: "If the parents are divorced or separated, answer the questions about the parent who provides the greater portion of the student’s financial support, even if the student does not live with them. If this parent is remarried as of today, answer the questions about that parent and the stepparent.”
It does not matter who owns the house.
See Section 475(f) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended [20 USC 1087OO(f) Amendment of Section] and AskRegs Knowledgebase Q&A, Who Is the Parent Of Record On the FAFSA Starting In 2024-25?
Student Aid Reference Desk: For additional information, try the Student Aid Reference Desk. It is a central hub of all the important financial aid resources you need with direct links to legislation, regulation, Dear Colleague Letters, and other ED and NASFAA references. It is updated on a rolling basis with the latest news and changes.
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