Should an Independent Student Include His Spouse and Children In Family Size If They Live In Another Country?

Award Year: 2024-25 KA-36861 Helpfulness Rating 462 page views

This guidance is specific to the 2024-25 award year and later. For 2023-24* award year guidance see AskRegs Q&A, Should an Independent Student Include His Spouse and Children In Household Size If They Live In Another Country?

Scenario: When the student's federal tax information (FTI) was transferred into the FAFSA, there was only one dependent claimed on the tax return. The student updated the FAFSA to indicate a family size of five. Upon further questioning, it was discovered that the student’s wife and three children live in a different country while the student resides in the U.S. His wife does not work, nor does she file taxes. She claims the student sends them money for support.

Answer: Effective with the 2024-25 FAFSA processing year, the number in the family size is based on the number of dependents claimed on the student's tax return for the applicable tax year. When completing the FAFSA, if the student's family size has changed since filing the tax return, they have the opportunity to manually update family size. When the independent student manually enters the family size, they are instructed to include the student (and spouse), the student’s dependent children (for example, if they live apart due to college enrollment), and other people living with the student now. Include these dependent children and other people only if the student will provide more than half of their support between July 1 and June 30 of the award year covered by the FAFSA.

A married student (who is not legally separated or divorced) should include their spouse in the family size. If the student is providing more than half of a child's support during the award year, the child should be reported in the student's family size. Use of professional judgment (PJ) in this situation is not necessary.

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