Terry, In your recent article “5 Things to know about FAFSA”, you state “The FAFSA form ask for all income, substantiated by the parents’ tax return (of both parents, if divorced).” Yet there are countless internet references which state that “If your parents are separated or divorced, the custodial parent is responsible for filling out the FAFSA. The custodial parent for federal student aid purposes is the parent with whom you lived the most during the past 12 months.” Furthermore, I attended a FAFSA webinar this year which said the same thing. This information contradicts what you stated. So which is right? Is what you published in your article wrong? Can you please clarify.

Terry Says:  I should have included the word “possibly” for both parents, if divorced.  This is a complex issue, and it is not necessarily the parent with whom the child is living.  For example, if a divorced custodial parent has remarried, the income/assets of the stepfather or stepmother will be considered along with that of the custodial parent.  This can cause huge family issues, if that parent’s income is also being assessed for children of his/her former marriage.  And if parents are divorced (or separated) but living together, the income/assets of both will be counted for the FAFSA!   But if the parents are divorced or separated and NOT living together, then only the “custodial” parent is required to fill out the form.  BUT, the “custodial” parent is not necessarily the one who has legal custody or who declares the student as a dependent on his/her tax return!

Only the Federal government could come up with such a complicated set of rules.  For an absolutely complete tutorial on the issue of  which parent, step-parent, custodian etc. must file, go to www.Edvisors.com and read this article.

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