How Should I File The FAFSA If My Parents Are Divorced: JR’s Daily Two-Minute Financial Aid Tip

This is episode 18, and today we are answering the question, How Should I File The FAFSA If My Parents Are Divorced?

Lets be honest, 50% of all first marriages end in divorce. The rates go up on all marriages after that. In addition, more than half of all births to American women under 30 are born out-of-wedlock.  So odds are that as you are enter college now, you have lived with one parent as opposed to both. Now the FAFSA asks you to enter parental information to about their finances to decide how much aid you qualify for. The question is, what information should you be entering if you live with only one parent the majority of the time?


To answer that we have to look at three different scenarios to offer three different tips to maximize your eligibility for federal aid while still a dependent:

  • Tip #1: If your parent is widowed or single, answer only the questions about that parent. The FAFSA only looks at married couples, so don’t worry about it.
  • Tip #2: If your parents have divorced or separated, answer only the questions about the parent who provided most of your financial support during the last 12 months even if you spilt your time evenly between them
  • Tip #3: If your parent has remarried after being widowed or divorced, answer the questions about both your parent and your stepparent.

The FAFSA can be annoying and intrusive, but is necessary to receive financial aid. So do the smart thing and fill it out correctly the first time. But to make sure you get the most aid, here’s a quick tip: For the year before you file the FAFSA before your first year of college, dependent students should try to live with the parent that makes the LEAST amount of money. Aid is directly based on parental income, and it benefits a dependent student to have access to less financial resources, not more in the eyes of the Department of Ed. Less money coming into a family, means more financial aid coming to the student!


Have a problem with financial aid or scholarships? go ahead and send JR a tweet @ CollegeCashMan. Thanks for listening to JR’s Two Minute Financial Aid Tips at


The College Money Man Podcast, and JR’s Two Minute Tips are available for subscription for FREE via iTunes, and Stitcher. New episodes of 2-Minute Tips are released everyday Monday thru Friday, and our weekly broadcast is released each Wednesday. Subscribe, like, and comment! Download and get your dose of financial aid help on the go.

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