7 Tips for Completing the FAFSA with Divorced Parents
Trying to complete the FAFSA with divorced parents is a little different. There are rules based on who you live with and how much time you spend with each parent. Secure the most aid possible with these helpful tips.
Congratulations on entering an exciting new chapter of your life. Your time at the university you have chosen will impact your world in a variety of ways you have yet to even imagine.
Still, though, there are many nerve-racking things you need to consider. For example, how are you going to pay for your education? Chances are that you will not be able to pay every fee out-of-pocket.
That is okay because you are certainly not alone. Most students have to take out student loans. In fact, the nationwide amount of outstanding student loan debt is over $1 trillion!
Clearly, you need to take your student financing seriously. That means you need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Navigating that, though, can be tricky for a student with divorced parents.
The good news is that you have come to the right place with this article.
Understand the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
It won’t hurt to do plenty of research ahead of time for even attempting to fill out your FAFSA. There are a lot of ins and outs, so don’t get overwhelmed if it seems like too much.
The FAFSA takes many things into consideration when calculating the number of student loans for which you will be eligible. One of these things is the general ability of your household and/or parent(s) to contribute finances to your education.
This ability is otherwise known as the EFC. Your FAFSA will determine how much money your family is expected to be able to pay, based on a variety of factors such as income and marital status. Do some research to learn what might positively or negatively affect your EFC.
Fill Out the FAFSA Sooner Rather Than Later
Whether or not your parents are divorced, time is of the essence when filling out a FAFSA. There are many reasons for this.
The sooner you submit your FAFSA, the more likely it will be for you to be awarded the student loans you really need. If you miss the deadline for any reason, you will lose some of the options that would have been available.
In addition, sometimes the FAFSA will require you to send in additional paperwork. This is especially true for students with divorced parents. You need to give yourself plenty of time to hunt down the requested additional paperwork to send it in on time for your first semester.
Lastly, perhaps you are not awarded the amount you need in student loans. If that is the case, it is better to have plenty of time in advance to consider your other options to fund your education.
Consider All of Your Options
At the end of the day, the FAFSA system cannot possibly be perfect. It will miss some key factors that contribute to the financial stability of your family.
The good news is that for a couple hundred universities throughout the United States, there is still another option. These colleges also require a CSS profile to be submitted, which should increase the probability of getting appropriate student loans.
The CSS profile you might fill out will be more detailed overall. It provides the FAFSA with more specific information related to your financial situation, including the award of other scholarships or grants for your education.
Focus on the Custodial Parent
Once you are ready to fill out your FAFSA, remember that you really only need to file under the custodial parent’s information. Unless your custodial parent remarries, there should not be any other person who would need to be listed on your FAFSA.
In fact, it would be in your best interest to only list the one custodial parent, so don’t worry about filling out the noncustodial parent’s information. It would only raise your EFC by adding another income to your household.
Ask for Help When Filling Out a FAFSA with Divorced Parents
Filling out a FAFSA can be really tough. Sometimes in order to discover more options with the process, it is important to reach out to a professional. There are plenty of services on and off-campus that are available to assist you throughout the process.
Don’t Commit Fraud!
You’re smart and responsible, so this tip might be common sense to you. The sad news is that many students try to lie about their custodial parent in order to get more loans awarded to them.
This isn’t a great idea, though, because chances are that you will be found out and get in big trouble. If you split your custody pretty much down the middle when it comes to relying on both of your parents, there is a little bit more flexibility. Simply choose the parent with the lower income so that your EFC will be lower, too.
Whatever you do, though, do not lie about the custodial parents. That is committing fraud, and it would not be worth the money you might save if you get caught.
Keep the Divorce Agreement Handy
As mentioned above, the process of submitting your FAFSA might require you to eventually send them more information. For your specific family, one of the requested documents would likely be the divorce agreement. There are many reasons for that.
Sometimes, the divorce agreement will confirm that one of your parents has proven to be more financially responsible for you than the other. That is why it is important not to lie about your custodial parent and his or her financial situation. Odds are that verification will be requested.
Remember To Budget Accordingly
You are obviously filling out a FAFSA with divorced parents to be smart about your education finances. You are the type of person who knows why a person should buy a pre-owned vehicle to save money responsibly.
It is great to maintain such a high level of responsibility, and that is a lesson you will continue to learn throughout college and life. I know how important it is to take budgeting and your financing seriously. That is why I have consolidated these amazing apps that will save you money when using your mobile device – check out the article today.