Avoiding 10 Common FAFSA Mistakes

FAFSA season begins on Sunday. New Year’s Day is always the first day that parents can file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
While it’s been simplified in recent years, the FAFSA still isn’t what I’d call a user friendly document and it’s easy to make mistakes. Paula Bishop, a CPA friend of mine in Bellevue, WA., who fills out a lot of FAFSA forms for clients, tells me that she’s never seen any parent complete a FAFSA application without at least one mistake.  Yikes.
Here then are 10 FAFSA mistakes to avoid:
1. Don’t include retirement assets on the FAFSA. The FAFSA doesn’t care how much you’ve got in your IRA, 401(k) or other retirement accounts and doesn’t ask. The FAFSA does ask about cash, savings and checking accounts.
2. Don’t leave blank answers. If your intended answer is zero, write “0”  or not applicable. Leaving blanks can cause miscalculations and the application could be rejected.
3. Don’t enter the wrong income tax figure. Provide the federal income tax you paid or will pay based on your 2011 federal tax return — not the tax withholdings on you and a spouse’s W-2 forms.
4. List the most current marital status. You need to state what your marital status is on the day you sign the FAFSA, whether you are married, separated or divorced.
5. Don’t inflate your education. If both parents didn’t graduate from college, don’t list “college” as their highest education  attainment even if they did attend some college.  Plenty of schools treat applicants more favorably if they are considered “first-generation” college students.
6. Don’t forget to list the colleges. On the FAFSA form, you can include up to 10 colleges that your son or daughter has applied. The federal processors will send the pertinent FAFSA information to the schools on the list. You will need each college’s Federal School Code.
7. Don’t assume you won’t qualify for financial aid because your house is too valuable. The  FAFSA doesn’t even ask if you own a house so the amount of home equity you have is irrelevant. The FAFSA does ask about second homes or real estate investments.
8. Don’t assume you won’t qualify for financial aid because you have too much saved in retirement. You could have millions stuffed into retirement accounts and it wouldn’t hurt your chances for financial aid.
9. Don’t type in a wrong Social Security or driver’s license number. Double and triple check these numbers.
10. Don’t assume that you can’t file the FAFSA without a completed 2011 income tax return. You can estimate your taxes in order to complete the FAFSA, but be sure to update  the financial aid application after your tax return is complete.
Learn More:
You can discover great ways to make college more affordable by reading my free 2016 guide – Six Ways to Cut the Cost of College.

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  1. Hi, my son is starting a university this fall. He has a special circumstance because his father died this past April, so we changed all the FAFSA to my name as the primary parent. The school wants my 2015 taxes and are questioning because I filed my taxes single because I was separated from my husband. Now they want to know why I filed single. My husband and I worked it out and are now back together. How can this complicated situation be resolved?

  2. I am trying to decide how to answer the dislocated worker question for my kids FAFSA. I had to quit my job to take care of my mom who has been living with me since 2014 and has Alzheimer’s. I can not afford assisted living for her so haven’t been able to go back to work. I am divorced and receive alimony and child support. Am I a dislocated worker?

    1. Hi Tracy,
      This is a situation that unfortunately many more couples will face since schools are using older tax returns now.
      I would only include one parent’s income on the FAFSA and then obtain a tax transcript and circle the custodial parent’s income. The college most likely will have additional questions so you’ll have to explain your circumstance.
      Colleges are not required to honor this scenario, but should.
      You will have to reach out to each PROFILE schools and ask them what their procedure will be for this situation.
      Lynn O.

  3. Hello,
    My boyfriend and I have a daughter. We live together and filed jointly, How should I put my marital status on Fafsa. When I out Married it asks for a marriage date and if I put single it says there may be an error.

  4. Hi if i stay with my mom but my step ma claimed me on her taxes will that affect my fasfa since my stepmom filled my fasfa out for me?

  5. my husband died in March 2015 . I am trying to fill out the FAFSA form. It asks for income are my husband’s lump sum insurance payments from 2 insurance companies reportable? We currently live my SSDi and my son’s supplemental and my widow’s payment from SS. my older son doesn’t receive SS because he is 19. My 19 year old is returning to the Jr. College and my other son is a senior in high school who when he graduates high school he will no longer receive SS supplemental/ survivors benefits. At that time my husband’s insurance money will be needed to supplement our household living expenses. Please advise, thank you.

  6. Hi,
    I got married on 6/6/15. When filling out the FASFA information for 2015-2016, I will say I am married. My question is they are asking for 2014 tax info, I was divorced at that time and filed head of household. Do I need to add my new husbands 2014 tax info, since we were not married until 2015?
    Thank you for your help

    1. Hi Pam,
      It would have been better to have filed the FAFSA before you were married. You must declare your marital status as of the day you file the FAFSA. If you had filed in May, 2015, for instance, you would have declared yourself to be single. Now you must say that you are married. Your new spouse’s assets and income will be considered in the financial aid formula.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  7. Hi, my problem is both my legal parents were incarcerated in the last five years and financial aid is asking why was tax returns were not filed and they want documents from IRS. I loved with my grandmother who did not legally adopt me. She just had s notarized paper of guardianship. What can I do to fix this? I have emailed the schools financial aid office and tried calling several times.

  8. I am about to be married and need to know if my new husband’s income will affect my daughter’s ability to get scholarship monies, I plan on filing separately. I have never made that much money and she has always qualified for Pell, etc.

    1. Hi Denise,
      If you get married, your husband’s income and assets must be shared on the FAFSA. If makes no difference if you file separately. You are married and you must share your husband’s income and assets.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  9. I live with my boyfriend but we are not married and am a stay at home mother to my 3 month old son. Do I file him for income/tax return questions?

  10. I was wondering if my mothers fafsa would be messed up if I fill out my own because i am labeled as a dependent. Thank you

    1. Your mother has to file the FAFSA that includes her assets and income as well as your assets and income so you will be eligible for financial aid.
      Lynn O.

        1. Post

          Hi, After filing the FAFSA, you will get a copy of all of your FAFSA inputs in the Student Aid Report several days later online. I would suggest sharing that documents with your ex-spouse.
          Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  11. Hi I completed my Fafsa for 2014-2015 and In the application I put that I am married and I am the household. Now my college is asking me to call IRS to obtain proof that I filed my taxes right. What do I do now.. I always do my taxes as the household. My husband is not legal. That means I dont qualify..? My Tax Preparer stated everythibg is right.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Claudia,
      You cannot file your taxes as head of household because you are married. It makes no difference that your husband is an alien.
      The IRS requires all taxpayers who file as head of household to be “considered unmarried” as of the last day of the tax year. To be considered unmarried means: You have never been married. You are divorced or legally separated from your spouse.
      You taxes weren’t filed correctly.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  12. Hi Lynn,
    My name is Danielle. On my dad taxes, in the section that says scholarships and awards received for me, he put my scholarship. My EFC was $0. Then my school told him he was not suppose to do that. Then when he took it off, my EFC raised to $1500. Why did this happened? Should my dad have kept the section B the way he had it ?
    Thank you

    1. HI Danielle,
      I don’t know why this happened. I would contact the school you are attending and ask the financial aid office to help.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  13. My brother took money out of his IRA account and got a 1099-r and now his income for last year taxes was 51,000 and his daughter made about 9k in her job. She only has one semester left and needs the aide cause of this will she be denied is there anyway that it can avoided. Cause she really needs to aide to pay for school and its not her fault her father was stupid.

    1. Hi Jane,
      That was a bad mistake. I would tell the daughter to ask for a professional judgment from the school. She can say this was a one-time occurrence and should not be counted when calculating her financial aid award.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  14. I am about to fill out FASFA for my daughter. I am a at home mom and have lives with my boyfriend for 15 years. Do I use his income? Also I am in default on a federal loan I took out 5 years ago to go to medical school is that going to affect my daughter??? Any help would be appreciated 🙂

    1. Hi Angela,
      You would not use your boyfriend’s income on the FAFSA. Your default would probably prevent you from borrowing though the PLUS Parent Loan, but it would not prevent your daughter from borrowing with federal student loans.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  15. I recently applied and submitted my dream act application (chose will file for taxes) because at the time I was an elegible AB 540 student. A week ago I received my permanent U.S. residency along with my alien number so I do not think I will still qualify for the Dream Act and will be able to fle the FAFSA instead. With this in mind, is there any way in which I can delete my dream act application to speed up my FAFSA process? Any help will be appreciated. Thank you for your time

    1. Hi Diana,
      I would call the FAFSA hotline number and ask this question. Here is the link to it:
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  16. I’m filling out FAFSA for my daughter. I am literally in the middle of a mortgage process and cannot have an inquiry on my credit. Does FAFSA do a hard or soft pull?

  17. My husband died last year. I do not have a job but am now receiving a month pension check from my husbands job. Does this count as income on the FASA?
    What about cash payment from life insurance?

  18. My sons mother and I are not married but live together and filled out FASFA as such but we file taxes separately. She uses 1040A and I file using 1040? I added our assets and income for FASFA. Will this be sufficient?

  19. I have twin boys who will be attending college for year of 2015-2016, I made it through most of fafsa form on line for #1 son, and will complete on college goal night with assist to make sure completed right, so then I tried to fill out another fafsa form for son #2 and it won’t let me because the email is the same, I am the main email address, so how do you pass this point on the form when it says error because of same email already used for another account?

  20. I have a question. Last year I asked for fafsa, my parents are separated and I live with my father. When I applied for financial aid I gave my moms income, now they are each going to fill out their income tax. My father usually claims me, will their be a problem because I used my moms income?

  21. Hi I have a question. I’m applying for a grant and my husband and I are separated do I put what we made together last year or just what I made alone?

  22. Hello!
    FAFSA asks me what my total amount of cash, checking and savings is. I have a joint account with my boyfriend, should I claim half of it or all of it? And do I deduct how much I owe on my credit card?

    1. You would claim half of the account if that is how much you own. You can’t deduct debt on a credit card on the FAFSA.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  23. Hi Lynn. My son lives with his fathe but also spends a lot of time with me. I pay for majority of his expenses because his father now has four more children with another lady. I claim my son on my taxes but he stays with his father. Who will complete fafsa.Please help. Im new to this and want to get it right.

  24. My son filled out a fafsa for 2014-2015 on 11/19/2014, but when he applied for his classes it said no tuiton pending, so an amount was set for him to pay, what does it mean? Also we filled out an 2015-2016 application on line will that affect his application for the 2014-2015 semester. if so what can he do rectified it?

  25. What if you used to live with your grandma and she filed you as a dependent on taxes and you moved back with your mother for over 12 months?And move states?

    1. Hi Susie,
      It doesn’t matter that your grandmother claimed you on your taxes. Your mother would file for financial aid for you. I’m assuming your mom is single. If your mom is married, she would have to include her husband’s income/assets too.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

      1. Hello!
        I was wondering what do i do about my fafsa. I got married in oct 2014 but my fafsa is asking about 2013 taxes. do i add my spouse info even though we weren’t married at the time?

        1. Hi Mariana,
          You might be filling out the wrong FAFSA. If you are completing the 2015-2016 FAFSA, you would need to say that you are married and you would be using your 2014 taxes.
          Lynn O.

  26. Hello, I have quite a few issues here… in 2014 from Jan to Aug i was working and then I got fired. Between Nov 2014 to Jan 2015 i was working for another job but it ended because it was seasonal. right now my husband is the only one working and his income is really not that much. I would like to use this opportunity to go back to school but I do owe student loans and I also owe another junior college some money (i’m applying to a different college hoping to start all over). We have a son and I would like to return to school but I’m not sure if i’ll qualify if they ask so many financial questions. Would it be bad to report that I’m married, or just say married and see what happens? I haven’t filed my tax return yet, but i kno that when i do file that i’ll owe money to the IRS, what can i do?

  27. I have a question… My 19 y/o stepson lives with me and his father. before we married his father completed all of his fafsa requirements. But this year the schools telling me I have to change my taxes because I claimed head of household. and according to them (I) did my taxes wrong. if I don’t change or amend my taxes he will lose his Pell Grant. I own all of the property where we live its not in my husbands name. Are they correct?

    1. I left out the fact that I also have a 15 y/o son that lives with me. I don’t understand what’s wrong. I filed my taxes the way I was instructed. Based on all of they information I was informed to file as head of household. Thank you

    2. Hi Donna,
      Yes the school is correct. If you are married you can’t file as head of household. Also, filing head of household precludes those who do from claiming the valuable American Opportunity Tax Credit which is worth up to $2,500 a year.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  28. On my 2014-2015 application, I used my mothers information and stepfather, however I just realized that my father is the one who filed on his taxes that I am dependent. What do I do? Especially since my school is asking for 2013 tax transcript? Do I erase the previous information and change it to my fathers?

  29. Lynn,
    I have a question… My son who is 23 but lives with my mother and father and works, pays for his own school,car,insurance , all the adult things you are suppose to. He does not pay rent but does help out with utilities when needed. My question is this…Is he considered independent or would he need to put his father’s information on the fafsa? He last lived with his father. Neither his father nor I help him pay for any thing.
    Thank you for your time and response.
    Mary K

    1. Hi Mary K,
      Sorry, but your son is not considered independent for financial aid purposes. I’m assuming you are divorced and in this situation one parent will have to share his/her financial information. It’s supposed to be the parent where the child lived the longest. If the living arrangement is equal — or in this unusual case the child lives with neither parent – then the parent who makes the most money is supposed to file. The best way to get the parent making the least amount of money eligible to file – have the child spend the night a few times this month or next with the lowest-wage/asset parent before the FAFSA is filed.

  30. I’m not sure if I worked in 2013, and if so, i don’t know how much money i made. I didn’t file taxes, and I didn’t have to pay taxes. I put $0.00 as the amount made in 2013. If that’s incorrect, will I be penalized?

  31. My current husband has one son (17 years old) and one daughter (11 years old) with his ex-wife, and I have one daughter (17 years old) with my ex-husband. His son and my daughter are juniors and about to apply for college. Based on the divorce degree, my husband and his ex share the time to take care their kids. However, the kids stay with us most of the time because their mom is working night-time. In the tax returns, she claims the son as a dependent, and my husband claims his daughter and mine. When I’ll be applying financial aid for my own daughter, can I list my husband’s son as a member of our household? If yes, this is very beneficial for us because there are 2 college students in the same household. If no, what can we do to claim him?
    I would appreciate your advice.
    Thank you.

  32. I accidentally filed FAFSA for the wrong school year. I needed to file for 2014-15. What can I do since I can only file one free FAFSA per year?

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Just go ahead and file for the correct year, which will be an entirely different document.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  33. My husband and I are not living together, but we are not legally separated or divorced. He also does not work. If I file 2015 taxes as married filing separately, will I be able to receive financial aid and student loans or do I have to file married filing jointly since we are still legally married in order to be eligible?

    1. Hi Katy,
      You don’t have to be “legally” separated to be considered separated when filing the FAFSA. It would be much more beneficial to you to say you are separated from your husband (which you are) and then file without your estranged husband’s income and assets. If you have taken care of the child the majority of the 12-months ending the day you file the FAFSA, you would be the one to file. If your husband was the one where the child lived the majority of the 12-month period, he would file the FAFSA.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

    2. Hello my husband and I are both wanting to go to college and he is the only one bringing in any income. Does this better our chance of us both getting FAFSA?

  34. I’m trying to fill out the FAFSA and it is asking for adjusted income and working wages. Where do i find that on the tax return – he made about 3500.00 during the summer and will be filing.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Nancy,
      If you have problems with questions on the FAFSA, just call the FAFSA helpline at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  35. My wife was disabled early in 2014 (April), so our income reported will be skewed. How will that effect funding. Also, will FAFSA automatically pick up that I am putting triplets in college at the same time?

  36. Hi Lynn,
    My wife is going to a college soon. She is applying for financial aid grants. Does she need to provide my income tax return for last year or not? we got married in August 2014 and before that i was a non resident allien and i was here on an internship. i filled single since at that time i was single. Thank you!!!

    1. So basecally we were bought single during 2013 and we were not married either. Does she need to provide my tax transcript for the 2013?

  37. My parents are legally marriage but they are separate and so is the way my mother fill her taxes. I live with my mother and my two brothers. My father lives in the Dominican Republic, he is a resident here but he works there, therefore he doesn’t fill taxes here. However, he is a dentist there but i don’t receive any financial help from him. My question is should i include that he is a dentist in the FASFA or should i put as unknown or unemployed?? Please help

    1. Hi Lesly,
      If your parents are separated, only one parent will complete the FAFSA. This will be your mother since you live with her. You should answer each FAFSA question truthfully, including the occupation of your father.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

      1. I have a good amount of cash in savings from home sale. I’m in between homes and hope to purchase another one using that cash. Will my savings have an effect on my daughter’s FAFSA application and decrease her financial aid?

        1. HI Ana,
          Yes, your cash will impact your daughter’s ability to get financial. The FAFSA does not ask about home equity, but it does ask about cash and investments. It’s not a good idea to sell a house and be sitting on the proceeds if you have a chance for financial aid.
          Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  38. My daughter is a college sophomore. She is living off campus and has loans to cover living expenses (rent, meals, transportation and books/supplies). We are about to submit her FAFSA application for her junior year but she just received her loan dispersement for the upcoming term,will the large balance in her bank account hurt her chances for receiving aid? We obviously have to state the current account balance in her bank acount but don’t want that to hurt her chances.

  39. My question is my girlfriend and I live with my parents and she is receiving FAFSA. My parents are going to claim her as a member of the household . Will that effect her FAFSA for next year ? And if so what can I do .She go’s to school full time and doesn’t have a income . So

  40. Hello Lynn,
    I am currently a single working professional (30y old), but will be quitting my job to go to law school. All of my old tax returns show that I’m bringing in $45K/yr – do I have to mention somewhere that the $45k/yr will be gone once school starts?
    Thanks for your help!

  41. My son is an independent and is going for his masters. My husband and I have a checking account with his name on it just in case (god forbid) we both become incapacitated does he need to include the balance of our account on his fafsa.

  42. Hi Lynn,
    My husband is in graduate school and is taking out federal loans. I am a teacher and am starting my masters and took out a private loan of $10,000. This loan is a check that will go into our savings account. Will this change his eligibility with his FASFA or will he still be awarded the same amount?

    1. Hi Lauren,
      Having money in your account won’t impact financial aid because there aren’t federal grants for graduate school, with the exception of TEACH grants, which are for people pursuing master’s or undergraduate degrees in teaching in certain high-need disciplines. You might qualify for that. I’m wondering if you explored taking out a federal loan versus a private loan for your master’s degree. Federal loans do have a safety net for borrowers versus private loans that do not. Private loans usually have variable interest rates and federal do not. I’d compare the interest rate and terms of a federal direct unsubsidized loan for grad students vs. the private loan you have gotten.
      Lynn O.

  43. I recently applied for Spring Semester at a local 4 year institution. I earned an AS in Accounting in 2005 from a different 2 year institution. I completed my FAFSA this evening. However, I have recently had a major change in our household income that is not reflected because I had to use 2013 tax figures. My husband suffered a spinal cord injury and was placed on disability on October 27th of this year. His disability benefits are processing, but not complete, however, we are a one income family right now. Does this constitute a “displaced” spouse? I just want to make sure I completed the application correctly.
    Thank you.

    1. Because you must use your 2013 income, you will have to ask a school for a professional judgement. A school can take into consideration your new circumstance, which can lead to a higher financial aid award.
      Lynn O.

  44. Hi Lynn,
    My husband was incarcerated September of this year (2013). When I file my FAFSA for the 2015-2016 school year, do I check the status as “separated” because we are informally separated, and his time in jail and our separation is for an indefinite period of time. Or will I still have to file as “married.”

    1. Hi Richel,
      I am sorry that your husband is incarcerated. I don’t think you could be considered separated because you are living apart involuntarily. I would call the FAFSA hotline or email them and ask them for the answer to this question. Here is the link the the FAFSA folks: https://studentaid.ed.gov/contact
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  45. Hello I am a full time employed married mom and started attending a JCC but got pregnant my first year. I am looking to go back and see options for Any financial assistance. However, my husbands occupation is a fisher man but technically classified a “seasonal” employee would his occupation and income affect my financial assistance?
    He is considered seasonal because his income is based off of the amount of fish that is caught and weather or not he market is good or bad … There is no exact salary like on land.
    Any advise or help would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Ella,
      If you did not file for financial aid for the 2014-2105 school year and if you are still eligible for Pell Grant money, you should file the 2014-2015 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as you can. If you qualify financiall, there is still an opportunity to get Pell Grant money for the current school year.
      Your next opportunity to file for financial aid would be beginning on Jan. 1 when the Free Application for Financial Aid is available for the 2015-2016 school year.
      The fact that your husband is a seasonal worker is irrelevant. You would use his income and your income on the aid form and the federal methodology would determine if you are eligible for federal and state aid. You should file the 2015-2016 form as soon as possible in 2015 in case you are eligible for the federal supplemental educational opportunity grant. This money goes fast at many campuses. Students eligible for this money must also eligible for the federal Pell Grant. You have to be low income or lower middle income to qualify for the Pell Grant.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  46. Lynn I have a prob ! I’ve been attending classes for fall 2014 but my fafsa has not awarded me yet because of missing documents. Will I have to pay the school for the first semester if I drop the classes? And does claiming a dependent have an effect on your fafsa??

  47. Hi Lynn,
    Thank you for the article! And I have a question for item 5 in the article:
    I have college degree in China, but I never have a US degree and did not go to US college after I came to the US. So is my son considered to be the first generation college student? Please kindly advise.
    Thank you very much!

  48. Hello! My question is regarding how I would indicate on my financial aid application that my husband has no income, I am the primary house provider? (Also we file separate taxes) when I tried to apply it asked me if I was married, and I stated ‘yes” then questions about his earnings… what should I do?

  49. Hi Lynn
    My stepdaughter is being denied fasfa due to the fact that my wife and i filed seperate and both of us as head of household for 2013 as we were married in January of 2013 and my wife was divorced in 2012 and i was single our tax professional said that for the first year we could do this and for 2014 we would file married now financial aid is stating that we have to refile or they will deny the fasfa for my daughters senior year

  50. Hello! I have a niece I take care of who is considered to be independent but her school has denied her her financial aid money because they need documentation on her being independent. So my question is, do they have the right to do that even if FAFSA already approved her for assistance? Thank you!

  51. While filing out the FAFSA for my son, there is a section for the amount of cash on hand at signing. My concern is that I just received my tax refund which will make me seem like I am not financially eligible for as much help as my son really needs. The money is also deposited in my son’s savings account that I am trying to fill out the FAFSA for. I am a single mom of 3 children with a very low yearly income. I want to be completely honest while filing out his FAFSA. My refund gives a very inaccurate illusion to how much we live off of all year. What is the best way to handle this?

    1. If your adjusted gross income is less than $50,000 and you meet certain other criteria, including being eligible to file the IRS Form 1040A or 1040 EZ, you do not have to share your nonretirement assets on the FAFSA. So money you have in a checking account would not hurt your child’s chances for financial aid. I would not put the money in your son’s savings account since the money would be assessed again him. Just put your refund in your own savings account.
      Good luck!
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  52. I have a question. My daughter is a full time student and lives with me. I pay for everything although she also works part-time. I plan to file as head of household for the first time. Can she still claim the tuition that was paid for 2013? Also, is it true that she cannot clain herself since I will be claiming her for 2013?

    1. I am not an accountant so I unfortunately can’t answer your question. I’d ask your tax preparer.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  53. I need help pls. My son is 18 yrs old and wants to go to school and wants me and his stepdad to use our income for fafsa. My sister been claiming him for taxes and we all live together. Do you think it will effect me, I really need answers.

    1. Sandra — You and your husband (your son’s stepdad) must complete the FAFSA together and include both of your incomes and assets, as well as income and assets that your son might have.
      Good luck.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  54. Which parent info must be used. Facts are 1. Parents divorced in 2008 2. Student stays and attends highschool in NC. 3. student stayed with mother (who lives on the west coast) 2 weeks in 2013 4. Student stayed with father (who lives in same city as student) on weekends, schools breaks (approx. 12 weeks total) in 2013. 5. Student stays with grandmother remainder of the year. 6. Grandmother has not adopted student. 7. Mother earns 10 times as much as father.

    1. Nicole,
      Which parent did the child live with the majority of the year ending on the day you file the FAFSA in 2014. If he lived with you more than the father, you complete the FAFSA. If he lived with his father on more days, the father will complete the FAFSA. The 12-month period will end on the day you file the FAFSA, do not use the 2013 calendar year.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

      1. Thanks! Then based on the facts, that is, during the 12 month period prior to filing student will have stayed with mother two weeks, student will have stated with father approx 12 weeks and student will have stayed with grandmother remaining weeks if the 12 month period – student stayed with father longer so father competes fafsa. Do you agree?

  55. Can anyone help me figure out how to handle my situation please? When filing my FAFSA for the 2013-2014 academic year, I received a full financial package (Cal Grant, Pell Grant, Perkins Loan, a new freshman scholarship, a grant from the school, and a Direct Stafford Subsidized Loan). I was granted all of this because the income I filed for the FAFSA, my mother’s, was very low. She passed away at the end of this summer. A rep from my school’s financial aid office said most people report the death of a parent if they think it would help their financial status (since I was already getting as much money as possible through loans, grants, etc, saying she died wouldn’t have changed anything). However, I received an unexpected inheritance of less than 50k during fall quarter. Was I supposed to report the inheritance in my FAFSA while I was in school even though it wasn’t a part of last year’s income and is a one time event that isn’t reflective of my ability to pay? I’ve already received the aid for fall quarter and I plan to pay off the subsidized and Perkins loans. Or do I wait until this upcoming FAFSA filing period to report the inheritance? I’m just not sure if I’m supposed to go back and tell the school/FAFSA that I received an inheritance and if they’ll then expect me to pay back ALL of that grant, loan, scholarship and hit me with a penalty/fraud conviction or if I just wait until this upcoming FAFSA filing period to report it. I’m confused and stressed out and just trying to do the right thing. I’ve already had to deal with losing my mom, I don’t want to also be accused of fraud or get in trouble when I honestly didn’t know what to do. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Em,
      You do not have to report the inheritance for the 2013-14 year. You only report what assets you have on the date you file the FAFSA and you hadn’t received the inheritance yet. You will report any money that’s left on your FAFSA for 2014-2015. You should notify the school that your mother has died. Depending on your situation, you may qualify as an independent student.
      If you pay off your Stafford and Perkins before you file the FAFSA, you won’t have to worry about reporting some of your inheritance on the financial aid application. You will also be able to shield some of this money through the federal asset protection allowance.
      Talk to your financial aid office and explain your situation.
      Good luck.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  56. on the fafsa app it says
    Student Household Information
    Number of children who receive more than half their support from the student
    is that if i claimed them on taxes or no?

  57. in the fafsa app it says
    Student Household Information
    Number of children who receive more than half their support from the student
    does that mean if i claim them on my taxes or not?

  58. When id did my taxes we claim two people both of our sons since one is totally disabled and the other i support because of no job.The handicapped person is 30 yrs old and the other son is 27yrs old.I put this on the FASA and the college says i can not use them because their not considered children even tho i am giving to their support of more than 50%..I think the college just don’t want to accept a Pell Grant.When i claimed both kids I qualified for it,but when the college finiacial office told me to take them off i don’t qualify . I am a 54 yr old person who just got their GED and was excited to go to college for Microbiology and now my DReams are Shot.

  59. my daughter in law filled out her fafsa. she married my son in june. her college told her to redo here fafsa since she is married now. she did so and everything is so messed up. fafsa says she must put her maiden name, the school tells her something different. neither makes much money.so is it better for her to file as married now?will she get more grants? she sure is getting the run around

  60. Hi, my parents are married but filed seprately and I claimed my mother as single. Now that there filling together I claimed her married. Their asking for when she got married but she has been married all along. Should I put actual date of marriage?

    1. Pris – You can’t claim that your mother is single when she isn’t. You need to acknowledge that you provided false information on the FAFSA and do so immediately.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  61. I started my 2013-2014 FAFSA application 2 months ago, but I am still waiting for my parent’s 2012 tax return to be accepted. Can I still submit my FAFSA application by providing the information they have on paper?
    Thank you.

    1. Laura,
      You can always file the FAFSA with estimated tax figures. It’s best to do that rather than wait because by waiting you can miss out on aid from your state.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  62. Paula add one more:
    If you know you have made an error in your FAFSA application, go back to ‘Make Corrections’, make the necessary corrections, and resubmit. The correction will appear in your application. Making an error is not a problem. To error is human and pardon divine’.
    I too help many clients mostly my students in filing the FAFSA applications. I do it for free.

  63. Can anyone help me in figuring out how I can fix this issue? I sold a business property this past year and I actually lost money on it. Now, my tax accountant hit me with a huge tax bill that I need to pay due to property depreciation value over the last 6 years I owned it. The bigger problem is that it wrongfully inflated my income in 2012 from 44K what I really made in 2012 on my W2 and other incomes to 180K (due to this depreciation schedule) which ended up with the family contribution of 100% of the tuition and even more. No way on planet earth I can afford any of that because I can hardly afford keeping the roof on top of our heads and food on our table. What can I do? Anyone came across this issue before and can shed some light or suggest how this can be fixed so my family contribution reflects what I really make and not an inflated number for tax purposes? Please let me know if possible by emailing eyemtv@yahoo.com. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Adam,
      You can ask schools for a professional judgement when your circumstances are different from the EFC. If you want to hire someone who might be able to provide advice, I’d suggest Paula Bishop, a CPA in Bellevue, WA, who helps people with complicated financial aid issues. Just Google her name.
      Good luck.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  64. Hi, I am a newly wed but am not sure whether to put married or not on the FAFSA application. My husband works but not “on the books” so as to call. What do I do? I work as well, but not enough to pay for school. What do i put down?

    1. Hey Lucy! I noticed your question on the collegesolution website about what status to put on financial aid. What did you end up putting if you don’t mind me asking?

  65. Great…
    Many thanks for your ideas on the write-up Avoiding 10 Common FAFSA Mistakes | The College Solution.
    They are generally very practical. I enjoyed reading your
    Take a look at my website: QROPS

  66. My husband and I own a small business that I run. When filling out the FAFSA form, do I put my income (where it asks for mothers income) as what I made before or AFTER deductions since we show a loss. Or will this be figured (or assumed) as a loss after they see our Adjusted Gross Income. Just not sure if I plug in the Gross Income or Net Profit… thanks!!! Hope that makes sense

  67. So my dad and my stepmom are separated and getting divorced. I am filling out my fafsa and don’t know what to do. They are doing taxes together again this year. So if I enter my father’s information without hers but they do taxes together, how will that work out?

  68. Hello, I just give birth to my daughter in december 2012 and I am trying to figure out if I need to file her on my income taxes or let my fiancee. I was wondering if I need to file her on my taxes to get single mother grants.

  69. Lynn
    For the last 15yrs our accountant had us file separately head of household ..with my husband using a different address (mailbox place..bur address looks like apt number). this was done bc my husband owed 40k to IRS from before we were married. We have 3 kids..I deduct the 2 older and he deducts the third.
    I have never been comfortable with this but it enabled us to get a financially needed refund each year. I make 50k and house in my name only.I never legally changed my maiden name.
    My husband makes $120k. I know his makes us look financially comfortable but we struggle every montage
    We have a hs junior so know our 2012 taxes will be used for fafsa form
    I do not want this to affect us getting aids or loans
    If we have accountant change our filing..what should we do?
    I am so confused and don’t want this to haunt ne din the line

  70. I am a mother of three with a 20 year old daughter in college. I have been a single mom for a few years and did not receive child support during that time. I have recently remarried and this will probably cause her FASA to be non-existent. For the year 2013-2014 I have to include my husbands income and I truly find it unfair that he will now have to pay for my 20 year olds college education when he is not there father. There father has never been around I am not trying to be unethical but my current husband has been around 4 years of there life and he shouldn’t be responsible for all of this. I have always taken care of my children on my own. Since he does not financially take care of them, do I have to add him to the FAFSA? My daughter attends school out of state with a full schedule and depends on her scholarship and FASA. Thanks for your help

    1. Hi Laurie,
      You will have to include your husband’s income on the FAFSA. That is the rule.
      While you might not consider it fair, but is it fair that an unmarried parent, who is divorced, can file the FAFSA without the child’s other natural parent. Divorced parents do get a break in the FAFSA formula that married couples do not enjoy. The advantage disappears, however, when a divorced parent remarries.
      If you didn’t have to include your husband’s salary on the FAFSA, taxpayers would be more likely to have to pick up the tab for your child and that’s not fair to them.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

      1. I never said it wasn’t fair, it was a question. I would have filed with the natural parent if he had not been registered with the State of Texas and I had access to his taxes. They have not seen him since they were toddlers, and believe me when I needed the government I was turned down with 20.00 til the next payday. I am a tax payer as well and my taxes have helped many that didn’t deserve it, but I still went to work and supported them and my three children. i wasn’t asking for a handout for her just some help, she has worked very hard to get to where she is at. I was just curious what a 20 year old does when they are on their own, but can’t file as independent. And though I know you are only here to answer questions to the best of your ability, have you ever wondered why between 18-21 you can vote, buy tobacco, buy alcohol and serve our military but you can not file as an independent to help you through school until you are 24 years of age. Anyway thanks for answering the question.

        1. Hi Laurie,
          In the past it was easier to be considered an independent, but the government changed the rules. Otherwise millions of parents would want to declare their children independent. The federal and state governments would go broke if all children qualified for extra financial aid because they were independent.
          Good luck!
          Lynn O’Shaughnessy

          1. Our son is getting married in May 2015 and will be applying for FAFSA as married/independent. Does it affect his ability to apply as independent (using only his own 2014 income) if we claim him on our 2014 taxes as a dependent?

          2. Your son would only be considered independent if he was married by the time he filed the FAFSA. If the FAFSA is filed this month and he isn’t getting married until May, he would file as a dependent student and the parents assets/income would be included.
            Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  71. My dad has an associate’s degree and my mom never went to college, but the thing is, this all happened back in Vietnam. Since they have no degree here in the United States, what should I select? Other/unknown?

  72. I am trying to fill out FAFSA and I am wondering about the student financial part. My mom files my taxes with hers because I am still dependent on her. How am i supposed to find out my adjusted gross income if she files my taxes with hers?

  73. Lynn,
    Recently divorced and have twin boys who are heading to college in the fall. My ex and I share all custody and finances 50/50 because at the time of our legal separation our incomes were only about 10K apart and I wasn’t eligible to receive any monies since its a wash according to any formulas. As we file the FAFSA, who should file? I do not know if he makes more than me (he was awaded some new accounts and territory) or if my income (I am on commission and due to short staffing and I was carrying workload of 3 for about 4 months.) My guess is he and I are both right around $75K…I have no way to reduce taxable income–he has the medical plan, 401k, HSA, dependent care for our 6 YO daughter so his taxable income is most likely less than mine. . Is there a way to determine between us without full disclosure to each other–obviously a senstive issue.

  74. I have been separated for two years and am in the middle of divorce proceedings. This is the first year that I will be filing Married Filing Separately. My two college age children live with me and are both in school full time (freshman and sophomore now).
    My husband voluntarily pays me support each month (the guilt payment for walking out on us). He will not be declaring these gift payments on his tax forms and I will not be declaring them as income. The IRS says I don’t have to so I am confident about that.
    I am wondering if I need to account for them somehow on the FAFSA which I am filing based solely on my income (since they live with me 100% of the time). I certainly do use the money he gives me to pay for their college. I qualify as a displaced homemaker. If I do not include his monthly voluntary payment to me, I only have $3,100 in income in 2012. They received no financial aid last year or the year before since we filed jointly at that time and my husband’s income was over $150k.
    How do I account for their out-of state pre-paid tuition plan that pays about 12% of their total bill each year? Is that considered college savings?
    Should I somehow account for the $20k inheritance I received upon my grandmother’s passing in 2012?

    1. Not fasfa related, but check and see if you qualify for head of household. So you get the earned income for your children…will get nothing as married filing separately.

  75. My son will be transferring to a different college in the fall but as of yet he doesn’t know which college it will be. Do I have to wait until he knows before I fill out his fafsa or can I do it now? I didn’t notice “undecided” as a college choice?? Anyone know?

    1. Hi Jeanine,
      You should not wait until you know what school your son wants to attend. Fill it out now. You can go back in later and designate what schools you want the application to be sent to.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  76. I’m an American living in the US with relatives, but my parents are Canadians, and I’m confused as to how to fill in their info on my FAFSA.

  77. Lynn, any way u can help me out with the part about spouse income and my income? we r married, so do I add ours together or not? Also would they count any lottery winnings (small Amount of course 10k on a 2011 income tax) Please email me. Austinbarnes83@yahoo.com

  78. My parents are divorced but they have 50-50 custody of me. I am 18 and applying for FAFSA for my second time, as this will be my second year of college. For 2012-2013 I said I was my Father and Stepmother dependent.
    My father and stepmother are currently separated but my dad has “custody” of my four other siblings. My mother is on disability and has one kid.
    Which parent would I put on FAFSA to get the most amount of aid: A single father of 5 making about $45k , or married mother who’s household income is about $13k?

    1. I’m an American living in the US with relatives, but my parents are Canadians, and I’m confused as to how to fill in their info on my FAFSA.

  79. I am trying to complete my FAFSA for 2013-2014 and its asking for my wages earned, I only worked about a week in 2012 so should I still list that under my wages?

  80. Ok, so I have filled out the FAFSA for our oldest (a senior) using 2011 tax numbers (shouldn’t be too much different) and saved it; do I submit it with those numbers and change them later or just leave it saved and then fix the numbers BEFORE sending it in? Confused first-time soon-to-be-college-mom!

  81. I don’t work, and my husband broke his back a few years back and is disabled and draws disability thru social security… It’s been hard for me to work or go back to school because I have to help him so much at home. I’ve been thinking about taking some classes online maybe… I really just don’t know where to start since I graduated high school in 2000! To say I’m nervous would be a major understatement!! Haha when applying for financial aid or any college applications, when it asks about my income, what should I put? Since his disability is our family’s only income…. Do I list it on the applications??? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!! Thanks!!!

  82. According to FAFSA, my parents can pay for my education no problem. The problem is, they really can’t. They have said they are happy to help me in any way they can that doesn’t involve them paying for my schooling. Due to a pay cut my dad took when he got a promotion (yes, it’s a flawed system), their income is marginally less than it was when we filled out the FAFSA. Apparently the only way to have that taken into consideration is to file a petition, which isn’t always accepted. They are not willing to take out loans because they want me to be responsible and learn money management. I have no objections to learning. In fact, I think learning money skills is very important. I’ve been living on my own for a year and I have started to pay attention to Dave Ramsey like you would not believe. I think the worst part about the system is that my dad (who is technically my step-dad) is suddenly being held very accountable for me. The government would not consider him my father or give any rights to him as such while I was growing up, but they are plenty willing to foot him with the bill. We tried several times to have him adopt me, but things kept happening that made it impossible. My little brother is watching as we all struggle to figure out how I am supposed to pay for school and go to school. It does not seem possible with the government against me…

  83. Help!!! My brilliant daughter is being denied fafsa over what boils down to a typo.She has a 3.9 gpa. and really deserves this. She wants to be a teacher for specail needs children. She checked married when in fact we are seperated. My 2011 tax filing status was head of household. The school says I need to ammend this, but in order to do so I would face heavy fines from the IRS. Shes just finished her first semester and the school wont let her sign up for spring classes. . I dont know what to do.

  84. I am a 49 year old single mother of two. My daughter, age 20 is in college and we filled out her FASFA form last semester. She was not eligible for grants due to my income. I am going to be also going back to school beginning in January to get my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. Since I am a single mother and she and I will both be in school, will that change and give us the possiblity, either myself or her to get grants. I did receive grants when I was in school for my AS degree in Nursing. Will we qualify for grants now that we will both be in school?

  85. Hi,
    As I was completing FAFSA my mom informed me that she married her bf half a year ago. Now I have to also add his income tax. They filed seperately and now I don’t know what type of income tax form to put down that they used if its seperate and different? Which type do I put? His or hers?

  86. I am wondering if we have to claim my portion of beneficiary SSI payment benefits received, from my deceased ex-husband, on my son’s college applications (fall 2012) or the FAFSA (1/2013)?
    My income/wages earned is under $25,000. I claim SSI benefits (from my deceased ex-spouse) as income on my taxes each year, but I do not have to pay any income tax.
    I have been told I do not have to claim the SSI on the FAFSA since it is it was not earned income. They are benefits received (payments as if I were receiving child support).
    I want to be as truthful as possible, but I want to know if I am obligated to report to colleges or FAFSA of my benefits received.
    Thank you in advance.

  87. My school wont give me Financial aid because when I filled out my fafsa I put that I was married. At the time I was but separated (not legally though) and filled separate tax returns. Now the school needs my wife’s taxes even though she will not be financially supporting anything I do for school. This would not be an issue if the IRS could get her a tax transcript but its been a while now and she and I have had no success in getting the IRS to get me the transcript.
    She has gone through the IRS website to get the transcript but she no longer lives at the address she filed from. She has also filled out the proper paper work to get it sent to the right address but its been over a month since its been processed and still no luck.
    Is there anything I can do as I am broke and am in dire need for grants and loans?

  88. Hello Lynn, I have a situation that I did not anticipate. I just drove my son back to school for his Junior year. We also have twin daughters entering their Senior year in High School. Our plan was always for both my wife and I to continue working until the girls are done with their 4 years of Undergrad studies, which is also when I will be 62. I would then retire and my wife may work an additional 2 years as she will be 60 when they graduate. My company, a large Fortune 500 firm, just announced that if long term employees(I have 30 years with them) do not retire by 12/31/13, they will no longer subsidize Retiree Health benefits, which they currently subsidize 80% of the cost of the premiums. This is significant. Now I have to weigh the pros and cons and consider possibly retiring before 12/31/13 at the age of 58 1/2 to preserve this cost saving benefit. I would no doubt find some work to make up the difference from my current income to my pension. I do not believe Fafsa looks at retirement income(pension) but just wanted to be sure. Will our 3 children then qualify for more financial aid? Currently we cover the cost for my son’s college, but we are concerned when having all 3 in college! Any advice you may have would be appreciated. Are their counselors who specialize in this type of situation?

  89. I am a mother of twins 20 years old. I have been a single mom for many years that never recieved a dime of child support. I have recently remarried and this will cut out all grant money my sons recieve which is only $5k per year each. I understand this is a lot but it doesn’t cover it all and I have to cover the remainder as it is. In the upcoming year I have to include my husbands income and I truly find it unfair that he will now have to pay for my 20 year olds college education when he is not there father. There father is in prison and has been on and off for the past 15 years. Is there any way around this? I am not trying to be unethical but my new husband has been around 4 years of there life and he shouldn’t be responsible for all of this.

  90. I just filled out my FAFSA online but had a question. I am married but me and my husband file our taxes separately. When I was doing my taxes I imported my information straight from the IRS into the FAFSA application. I then entered my husband’s tax information in another section by itself.
    I was awarded financial aid at by my school but someone told me I have to combine my husband’s income with mine in the tax section. I want to make sure I’ve completed the application correctly. I don’t want to have to pay anything back if done incorrectly.
    My question: Do I have to combine his income with mine or leave it separate in the tax section?

  91. Hi,
    My daughter spends 90% of her time with me and I have claimed her on my taxes for the last several years. He contributes a small amount $100 per month for her living expenses. For FAFSA, is it necessary to submit her dad’s tax info or just my own? He has re-married and has two young children; his and his new wife’s income together are much higher than mine. Thank you.

    1. The parent who takes care of the child the majority of the year is the one who completes the FAFSA. You would complete the FAFSA and your ex would not include info on the FAFSA. If your daughter applies to a school that also uses the CSS Financial Aid PROFILE, it’s likely that your ex spouse’s income will also be used.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  92. My son will be a junior in high school, and I am beginning to get information about his college choice and financial aid. I will be on disability retirement from the Ohio State Teachers Retirement System. How will this play into getting financial aid for college?

  93. I just graduated from high school and wish to go a nursing school. I realize that I need my parents income tax information. However, it has been 2 years since my last communication with my parents, and no one knows where they are. My grandparents asked if I could use there income tax info. because I live with them.
    What should I fill in for my parents income tax info.?

  94. I saw that as a stepfather my income needs to be included becasue my stepson lives with us. What if my wife and I get divorced on paper so his dad will have to fill out FASFA? He makes probably 1/3 what I do and my wife doesn’t work. Will this work or this there a better way to avoid having to include my income?

    1. Gary — What you are suggesting is highly unethical. I could never condone something like that.
      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  95. Hi,
    I just found out this evening, that my son (and his mother-my ex) intentionally filled out the FAFSA for 2011-2012, incorrectly reguarding income.
    My ex and I divorced over 10 years ago, both having joint legal custody of our son, but she kept the tax exemption, and he spent about 60% of his time living with her. When he began applying for financial aide, in Dec. of last year, he called and got particulars about my personal info and income. Then after I filed my taxes in April, I took his mother a copy. It was my assumption that he was using her income, as well as mine, for his income information. Turns out, he was ONLY using mine, because I have children with my second wife, and it gives him a better aid package.
    When he called tonight to get updated information, there were a few things that didn’t seem right in our conversation. I called him mom and asked her some questions, and again, her answers seemed off. So I got on the FAFSA website, and found out that he is being scandalous with his application. When I called him mother about it, she knew about it, but said I owed it to him.
    Not only do I not want him lying about this to get more money, but I am concerned about my liability. I want my son to continue his education, but I can’t justify this. Any thoughts on what I should do now?

    1. It is common for parents to claim the income of the parent that would offer the most financial benefits for the child. Yes, you are technically supposed to claim the parent that provided most of the support. Are you ready to contribute financially to your son’s education? I doubt it.
      On another note. I don’t agree with how the FASFA calculates the parents income in general. A lot of “kids” live on their own and support themselves after 18 but the government doesn’t want to help those that do that until they are 24 years old! The require the parents put down their income and ASSUME these parents are going to contribute to their children’s education. That is obviously not always the case. Some do but a lot don’t. Unless the child marries or has a child of their own, they are considered a “dependant” until the age of 24. That doesn’t seem right. It also isn’t right to include a step-parent’s income. A step-parent isn’t legally responsible for step-children EXCEPT for the FASFA.

  96. One fact some students and even some colleges don’t realize is that the federal government offers two options for preparing the required federal student aid application (FAFSA) – either do it yourself for free on the U.S. Department of Education’s Web site or get professional help from a fee-based service. (Similar to options for preparing income tax forms – only with up to 140 questions, the FAFSA is longer!) The largest fee-based FAFSA preparation service, Student Financial Aid Services (http://www.fafsa.com) provides FAFSA preparation services free to student from low-income families.
    Accuracy Counts. Calculation mistakes can reduce an aid award even if an aid application isn’t rejected. For example, taxable income isn’t adjusted gross income. If parents have tapped into retirement funds, it should be added to either untaxed income or adjusted gross income, not both, or the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will increase, and aid eligibility will decrease.
    Not All Assets Count. Not only doesn’t a primary residence count as an asset for the FAFSA neither do retirement plans, small family-owned businesses, and the cash value of life insurance.
    Dependency Surprises. Just because a student financially supports themselves, doesn’t mean they are independent under FAFSA rules. Many students are considered dependent until age 24 requiring parents’ income on their FAFSA. However, for children of divorced parents only the income of the parent with whom the child lived with the most during the past 12 months is counted.
    Job Loss Relief. If a member of a household has had their job eliminated, a student may be eligible for more aid. Look for the ‘dislocated worker’ question and see if the family meets one of the four criteria. Dislocated workers’ assets are counted differently than others – typically helping reduce an EFC, which increases aid eligibility.
    Job Loss Relief. If a member of a household has had their job eliminated, a student may be eligible for more aid. Look for the ‘dislocated worker’ question and see if the family meets one of the four criteria. Dislocated workers’ assets are counted differently than others – typically helping reduce an EFC, which increases aid eligibility.

    1. FYI….in 2014….some school ask for a CSS Profile or College Board and they ask for the NON Custodial Parent financial information/tax return. Even if my daughter lives with me and her father provides no support. They ask for both. Additionally….I found out that even though my 21 year old lives with me, I provide health insurance, prescription et al care….and she isn’t working….they do NOT count her as a dependent. I think (check this / not sure) the age is 26 where the same circumstances could exist and they’d let me claim her on my tax return. This year? She isn’t in college five months out of the year, so I can’t claim her on my return for the FAFSA.

      1. Hi Bill,
        Sorry, but I don’t know the answer to that one. I would contact the toll-free number on the FAFSA website and ask. They should know. Good luck.
        Lynn O’Shaughnessy

        1. question: My husband and I are divorced and share who gets to claim our daughter every other year on our tax form. She lives with him the majority of the time, but I get to claim her for the 2012 tax year. Can I still fill out the fafsa with her father’s information if I claim her on my taxes, or does she need to be on his tax return for her to apply with his tax information?

          1. Hi Stacy,
            The FAFSA requires that the parent that takes care of the child for the majority of the year is the one who must complete the FAFSA. It has absolutely nothing to do with who claims a child on the tax form or who pays child support. Your ex-husband must complete the FAFSA since your daughter lived with him the majority of the year.
            Lynn O’Shaughnessy

    1. I filled out my fasfa and I put I was only attending for less thatn half of credits, i misread, and i got denied grants. is there a way to fix this?