Financial aid eligibility can vary depending on whether you’re considered a dependent or independent student. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) requires dependent students to show their parent’s information on the form. Independent students are not required to include it. What if your parents are divorced or separated? What if you live with your grandmother? Whose information should be included?
The Department of Education provides these guidelines to explain who should be counted as a parent. Unless otherwise noted, “parent” means the legal (biological and/or adoptive) parent or stepparent. The rules below apply to legal parents regardless of gender.
If your parents are living and legally married to each other, answer the questions about both of them.
If your parents are living together and are not married, answer the questions about both of them.
If your parent is widowed or was never married, answer the questions about that parent.
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 parent, give answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months or during the most recent year that you actually received support from a parent.
If your parents are divorced but live together, you’ll indicate their marital status as “Unmarried and both parents living together,” and you’ll answer the questions about both of them.
If your parents are separated but live together, you’ll indicate their marital status as “Married or remarried,” and you’ll answer the questions about both of them.
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.
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.
If you’re still unsure, contact the Federal Student Aid Center at 1.800.4.FED.AID, 1.800-433-3243.
The Federal Student Aid Identification (FSA ID) is used to log in to certain FSA websites, such as FAFSA.gov. It’s comprised of a username and password, and it has replaced the old PIN system. If you used a PIN to sign your last FAFSA, you’ll be given directions on how to set up an FSA ID the next time you log in at FAFSA.gov.
Setting up an FSA ID is easy, and it’s strongly recommended that you set it up before you start the FAFSA. Simply visit fsaid.ed.gov, click ‘Create an FSA ID,’ and fill in the requested information.
Here are a few things you need to know:
If you are a dependent student (see our FAFSA Dependency Questionnaire in the resources section), one of your parents will also need to set up their own FSA ID. Parents will use the same website and follow the same steps.
Your email address cannot be the same as your parent’s email address on the FAFSA. Make sure you have two separate email addresses before you set up your FSA IDs.
Because many high schools have firewalls to prevent students from receiving external mail, it’s best not to use an email address that’s been assigned to you by your school.
If you have any questions about the FSA ID, click ‘Help’ in the top right corner at fsaid.ed.gov. You’ll find a wealth of information there.
Don’t forget to submit your FAFSA as soon as possible for priority consideration for some types of financial aid!
If you need help paying for college next year, you should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is required if you want to explore your eligibility for federal and state aid, and is also required for some grant and scholarship programs (including Oklahoma’s Promise). By completing the FAFSA, you’re not committing to any aid—you’re simply submitting a ‘snapshot’ of your family’s financial situation so you can learn about your options.
There are many helpful resources to check into, especially if you’re submitting the FAFSA for the first time.
UCanGo2.org provides great tips on how to cover the cost of college and provides information about various types of financial aid, including grants, scholarships, state aid, work-study and student loans.
StudentAid.ed.gov provides tons of information about when, how and why to submit the FAFSA.
Check out the categories and archives listed at the left here at StartWithFAFSA.org. Many common questions have been addressed in blogs that we’ve posted in the past. While you’re here, also be sure to check out our ‘FAFSA in Five’ videos! You’ll find one in English and one in Spanish.
For more Spanish resources, visit StudentAid.ed.gov/sa/resources and scroll down the page to see a list of all the publications and videos available in Spanish
Are you planning to take college classes this fall? Are you wondering how to pay for college? If so, you can begin the financial aid process now by submitting the 2016-17 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), available as of Jan. 1. The FAFSA is the application used to obtain all types of federal financial aid, some types of state financial aid and many scholarships, too. Everyone planning to enroll at a college or university should complete the FAFSA. Even if you think you, or your family, make too much money to qualify, apply anyway! Most people qualify for something, and you may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
It’s important to submit the FAFSA as soon as possible each year. Why? Because some financial aid programs that require FAFSA information, including some grants and scholarships, have deadlines early in the year. You don’t want to miss out on any financial aid opportunities.