How Can Parents Address College Financial Aid During Divorce?

There are many financial strains individuals will have to overcome as they go through a divorce. This is especially true for parents who are helping pay for their kids’ college education through the use of financial aid.

The following are a few tips to keep in mind as you navigate the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process, which can become even more confusing when you are going through a divorce (or have already completed the process):

  • Know the definitions in the application. “Custody” and “parent” may take on different meanings as you work through FAFSA. “Custody” in this situation refers to which parent the student lived with more often in the last 365 days. If the student spent an equal amount of time with each parent, an additional test determines which household provided the student with more financial support during that time. Additionally, with Parent A being the custodial parent, Parent B is not necessarily the student’s other natural parent. It could be the spouse of Parent A (the student’s stepparent).
  • Do not list too much financial information. If you share financial information for both natural parents and step parents, you could end up over-reporting income, which means the student might not get as much financial aid as he or she otherwise could. Sharing too much financial information makes it look like you have more money than you actually do.
  • Understand there are no requirements to pay for college. For students, it is important to understand that parents are not required to pay for their children’s college education. Therefore, there is also no requirement that the spouse who earns more be the one who pays for college. It’s important to talk about these arrangements in detail if either parent will be assisting with college expenses.

If you would like further guidance as you work through the divorce process, consult a dedicated family law attorney at Bryan L. Salamone & Associates in Long Island.

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