Your parents' marital status has changed since they filed taxes for the tax year for which the FAFSA form asks. In these complicated scenarios, you must go through a series of exams to determine which parent (s) should fill out your FAFSA form.
First, look at who filed a joint federal income tax return for that tax year. If both your parents filed a joint return, then they are considered married for FAFSA purposes. Otherwise, they're considered divorced.
If one or both of your parents did not file a joint return, then look at how much money they reported on their tax return. If one or both of them didn't report any money on their tax return, then they are considered widowed and can submit the form on their son/daughter's behalf. If more than one parent reported some amount of money on their tax return, then they are considered neither married nor widowed and cannot submit the form on their own behalf. They can still submit the form as "parent(s) other than spouse" if they meet all other eligibility requirements including having no dependent children or being a senior citizen or disabled person.
In short, if your parents filed a joint return, they are considered married. If not, then look at how much money they reported on their tax return to see if they are eligible to submit the form on their own or as a representative of another family member.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid FAFSA (r) form requests your parents' marital status as of the day you complete it, as well as their income and tax return information from 2019. As a result, your parents' marital status may have changed after they submitted their tax return (s). You should submit a new FAFSA if your parent (s) divorce(d) or separate(d) before you begin college.
Your parents' marital status is requested on the FAFSA so that we can determine your eligibility for federal student aid programs. We also use this information to identify any changes that might need to be made to your FAFSA filing status. For example, if your parent(s) get divorced or separate, then you would need to notify us of this change by submitting a new FAFSA.
Divorce means the legal separation of a married couple under the jurisdiction of a court. The divorce must be completed by both parties or neither party will be able to file an updated FAFSA with their new information. If one parent's name stays on the loan as a co-signer, that parent will still be required to make monthly payments even if they are now going through a divorce.
Name changes occur when someone other than a spouse becomes responsible for paying some or all of an applicant's bills.
Even if your parents are separated, never married, or divorced, you must fill the FAFSA with income information from both of them. If you live equally with both parents, you fill out the FAFSA based on the parent who provided you with the most financial support in the previous year. If you did not receive any support from your parents, use information from the other parent to complete the form.
In some cases, the Department of Education may have information about your parents' incomes that was not included on your FAFSA. For example, if your parents are involved in a lawsuit over who gets custody of you, the court might order them to provide information about their incomes. You should also check with your school district to make sure it has no additional requirements regarding parental information.
You can estimate the amount of support you received from your parents by looking at what percentage of their total income is reported on tax returns. If your parents claim less than two-thirds of their income on taxes, they are not contributing enough money to meet the FAFSA eligibility requirements. However, if they report more than two-thirds of their income, they are likely overstating the amount of their contribution and therefore underreporting their income on the FAFSA.
If your parents are not filing taxes jointly, there are still ways they can tell us how much they give you each month.
Take the time to contact the school personally if you have just divorced. If your marital status changed after you submitted your FAFSA, you may be eligible for extra help. Unless you inquire, you'll never know. If the parents are divorced, do both fill out the FAFSA? No. Only one parent needs to complete this form.
The first thing you should do if your parents file for FAFSA is call the school to make sure it has been done. Some schools require that one of the parents signs off on the FAFSA before it can be completed and sent in. If this is the case, you will need let them know that you want to complete the form and your parental rights are not at risk.
After you confirm that your school has received a FAFSA from your parents, call them. Let them know that you are filing separately this year and ask what they need you to include with your taxes this year. Many schools will tell you what information they need so there's no mistake about who files what. Include your parents' phone number with instructions for how they should answer if someone calls asking for you.
You should also write a letter to your parents telling them that you are filing separately this year and including any other information they might find helpful (such as an updated address). Send the letter by certified mail with return receipt requested. You can use the return receipt to prove that you sent the letter.
The FAFSA (r) asks you to submit your marital status "as of today" so that they are aware of your situation when the school year begins. It makes no difference if this does not match the tax or income status on your tax return. You must still record your marital status as of the day you completed the FAFSA (r) form.
In addition, if you are divorced and claimed your ex-spouse as a dependent, you will need to include her social security number with your own when you file your taxes. This is necessary for calculating your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is used to determine how much federal money you can expect to receive from the Department of Education. If your former spouse did not claim her own EFC, she would be required to do so on your behalf. The IRS requires that divorced parents' earnings histories not only be compared but also combined when calculating financial eligibility for student loans.
Finally, if you are married but living in one house with your husband but filing separately, you should also record your marital status as single on the FAFSA (r). This is important because it affects how much you can deduct from your income in case you take a deduction that exceeds your adjusted gross income. For example, if you were married but filed separately and then later divorce, you could not take the standard deduction since there is no longer a requirement that you be separated permanently to be considered single.