Dependent students must report their parents’ information, as well as their own, on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSASM).

Find out who counts as your parent when you file your FAFSA.

Reporting Parent Information

If you are considered a dependent student for purposes of the FAFSA, you will need to provide information about your legal parent(s) on the application. Your legal parents are your biological and/or adoptive parents. If you have a stepparent, you also must provide information about him or her.

Who is my parent according to the FAFSASM?
What if my parents are divorced or separated?
      Divorced or Separated Parents Who Do Not Live Together
      Divorced or Separated Parents Who Live Together
What if I have a stepparent?
What if my parents are in a same-sex marriage?
What if I live with someone other than my parents?
What kind of information must my parents provide for the FAFSA?


Who is my parent according to the FAFSASM?

If you need to report parent information, here are some guidelines to help you:

  • If your legal parents (your biological and/or adoptive parents) are married to each other, answer the questions about both of them, regardless of whether your parents are of the same or opposite sex.
  • If your legal parents are not married to each other and live together, answer the questions about both of them, regardless of whether your parents are of the same or opposite sex.
  • If your parent is widowed or was never married, answer the questions about that parent.

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What if my parents are divorced or separated?

In this case, how you fill out the FAFSA depends on whether your parents live together or not.

Divorced or Separated Parents Who Do Not Live Together

If your parents are divorced or separated and don’t live together, answer the questions about the parent with whom you lived more during the past 12 months.

If you lived the same amount of time with each divorced or separated parent, give answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months or during the most recent 12 months that you actually received support from a parent.

Divorced or Separated Parents Who Live Together

If your divorced parents live together, you’ll indicate their marital status as “Unmarried and both parents living together,” and you will answer questions about both of them on the FAFSA.

If your separated parents live together, you’ll indicate their marital status as “Married or remarried” (NOT “Divorced or separated”), and you will answer questions about both of them on the FAFSA.

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What if I have a stepparent?

If you have a stepparent who is married to the legal parent whose information you’re reporting, you must provide information about that stepparent as well.

EXCEPTION: The FAFSA asks about your parents’ education level. For these two questions, your parents are considered to be your birth parents or adoptive parents—your stepparent is not your parent in these questions.

Including your stepparent’s information on the FAFSA helps form an accurate picture of your family’s total financial strength.

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What if my parents are in a same-sex marriage?

Consistent with the Supreme Court decision holding Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, same-sex couples must report their marital status as married if they were legally married in a state or other jurisdiction (foreign country), without regard to where they live or where the student will be going to school.

Until April 2014, the online FAFSA will use the terms “mother” and “father.” If your parents are of the same sex, ignore those labels and use one set of questions for one of your parents and the other set for the other parent. It doesn’t matter which parent completes which questions. Starting in April, the 2014–15 FAFSA will refer to “Parent 1” and “Parent 2.” The 2013–14 FAFSA will continue to refer to “mother” and “father.”

 

Would you like to share this guidance with others? Download our fact sheet on same-sex marriage and the FAFSA.

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What if I live with someone other than my parents?

It doesn’t matter if you don’t live with your parent or parents; you still must report information about them. The following people are not your parents unless they have adopted you: grandparents, foster parents, legal guardians, older brothers or sisters, and uncles or aunts.

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What kind of information must my parents provide for the FAFSA?

For each parent, you’ll report similar information to that you report for yourself: basic information about your parent’s identity (e.g., name, Social Security number if he or she has one, date of birth); living situation (e.g., marital status, state of residence, household size); and financial circumstances (e.g., tax information, certain assets, certain untaxed income). Read our Filling Out the FAFSA page to learn more about

  • the types of information you and your parents will report on the FAFSA,
  • what to do if you don’t have access to your parents’ information, and
  • what to do if your parents don’t support you and refuse to provide their information for your FAFSA. 

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