Q: How does having divorced parents and/or step parents affect a student applying for FAFSA? More specifically, do we have to report the income of a step parent on FAFSA?
A: The FAFSA rules/guidelines stipulate that the “custodial parent”, which is defined by the parent you have lived with the most over the past 12 months (from the date of FAFSA application and back), is responsible for filing the FAFSA. Typically, this is the parent that has provided the most financial support for the child in the past 12 months, and has claimed the student as a dependant on his or her income taxes.
FAFSA does not consider the income or assets of the non-custodial parent, however it will take into consideration any child support paid to the custodial parent by the non-custodial parent. If you are attending a private college, you should make certain that the school does not require additional financial aid documentation for the non-custodial parent, as some private schools will take into consideration the non-custodial parents assets and income when determining financial aid from that particular school (this is separate from FAFSA). If you are living with a custodial parent, who has remarried (you are living with a step parent), you will need to report the income and assets of the step parent to FAFSA, if they are legally married at the time you are filing FAFSA.