Does Having a Parent in College Affect FAFSA?

Filling out the FAFSA can be challenging. Here, we answer questions about filing under independent and dependent student status.

September 29, 2021

Does Having a Parent in College Affect FAFSA?

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Every year, students fill out the FAFSA to get federal grants, loans, and other financial aid. A dependent student must submit their parents' financial information, while an independent student does not need to. The required FAFSA parent information includes tax documents and other financial information.

Some students may wonder if a parent's college enrollment affects their own FAFSA. Your parents' financial situation affects how much aid you can get. Multiple family members in college, including a parent, can increase your financial need. But before filling out the FAFSA, dependent students need to understand what they'll need from their parents.

If My Parents Refuse to Share Their Financial Information What Can I Do for FAFSA?

Dependent students need financial information from their parents. But what if their parents refuse? Leaving FAFSA parent information blank can result in a rejected application. The federal student aid office cannot calculate your expected family contribution without that information.

Fortunately, students can take other measures if their parents refuse to give financial information. They can contact their school's financial aid office to ask about a special circumstances appeal. Students may also qualify for unsubsidized student loans.

Does Living with Parents Affect Financial Aid?

Living with your parents can affect your financial aid award. After submitting the FAFSA, the federal student aid office calculates a student's expected family contribution. Schools then offer a financial aid package covering the difference between attendance costs and expected family contribution.

Students who live at home enjoy lower attendance costs than those who live on campus or independently. As a result, these students may receive lower financial aid awards.

Is It Better to Include Your Parents on FAFSA?

Dependent students must submit FAFSA parent information, including Social Security numbers and financial information. If applicants leave out required parental information, the federal student aid office could reject the application.

Why Does the FAFSA Care If My Parents Attended College?

Students must report FAFSA parent information. But why does the FAFSA ask if your parents attended college? The federal student aid program does not take parental education status into account when awarding aid. However, some states and colleges do. First generation college students may qualify for special grants or scholarships. So make sure to list your parents' highest level of education on the FAFSA.

At What Age Does Parents' Income Not Affect Financial Aid?

When do dependent students move over to independent status? The FAFSA considers all students aged 24 or older independent. These students do not need to submit FAFSA parent information. Independent students also include married students, parents, military service members, and graduate students.

If the federal student aid office classifies you as a dependent student, you can appeal that decision. Students file an appeal with their financial aid office.

Tips for Filling Out the FAFSA

Every year, students who fill out the FAFSA collectively receive $120 billion in financial aid. Filling out the FAFSA early and correctly helps students maximize their federal aid.

Applicants need certain materials to complete the FAFSA, including tax returns and other records of financial assets. Before filling out the FAFSA, create a document checklist. Dependent students should give the list to their parents as early as possible. Use the federal student aid office's documents list as a guideline. Use the document checklist to gather every document you'll need, including tax returns, untaxed income information, and financial asset documents. You'll also need a Federal Student Aid ID and a Social Security number. Gathering documents early saves applicants time when completing the FAFSA. Applicants can submit the FAFSA as early as Oct 1. Plan to file as early as possible, since some forms of financial aid use a first-come, first-serve model. For example, certain state grants can run out of funds. Students can list up to 10 colleges on the FAFSA and receive financial aid offers from each. This can help applicants choose their college.

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