Does a Spouse Need To Access the FAFSA If They Are Not a Contributor?

Award Year: 2024-25 KA-36905 Helpfulness Rating 6,956 page views

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

It depends. NASFAA has confirmed with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) that there are two required questions for a spouse even if they are not a required contributor. These are questions regarding their identity and contact information. How these questions are completed depends on the type of FAFSA being filed: paper or online.

Paper FAFSA (FAFSA PDF): 

For a dependent student, if their parents are married and filed a joint tax return, one parent must complete the parent section of the FAFSA, including their consent, approval, and signature. The parent's spouse must only complete the identity and contact information questions (questions 42 and 43). They skip the remaining questions, including the consent, approval, and signature. Similarly, if an independent student is married, their spouse must complete the identity and contact information questions (questions 25 and 26) but they skip the remaining questions if they filed taxes jointly with the student.

Online FAFSA: 

The online FAFSA is a bit different. In the case of a dependent student, the student either:

In the second scenario, when the contributing parent completes their section, they will be prompted to provide their spouse's identity and contact information. If they filed a joint tax return, the spouse will not be invited to contribute to the FAFSA. Similarly, a married independent student will provide their spouse's identity and contact information on the online FAFSA, but the spouse will not be invited as a contributor if they filed a joint tax return with the student.

Note: Even though the user is asked to provide their spouse's email address, the spouse will not receive an email invitation to contribute to the student's FAFSA if they are not a required contributor. 

Also see the AskRegs Knowledgebase Q&A, Who Is a FAFSA Contributor Starting With the 2024-25 FAFSA? (Award Year: 2024-25)

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.