With the new year approaching, some parents are thinking about sending their son or daughter off to college. If you are one of those parents, you may be wondering how to complete the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a gateway to all federal student aid. Whether you are married or divorced, consider the following questions before completing the FAFSA:
Let’s take the example of a high school senior who will attend college in the Fall of 2015. If their parent’s divorce is not finalized until January of 2015, FAFSA will base the child’s financial aid package on the parent’s joint tax return. Using that same example, but with the divorce having been finalized in 2014, the child's financial aid package would be based solely on the income of the custodial parent.
One of the criteria used for determining the custodial parent is which home did the child sleep most nights in, verified by the address on the student's driver's license. This is where planning is key - Do you want the custodian of the college-bound child to be the higher or lower-wage earner?
With most student aid money being granted within the first quarter of the year, filling out and submitting the FAFSA forms by March or earlier is important. Regardless of parental income, it has become standard practice for educational institutions to ask for a FAFSA, as this information is also required to receive scholarships.
Schools look for well rounded students when considering applications. Encouraging your child to become involved in their community while in high-school will go a long way in supporting their future educational goals.
Have you begun the FAFSA process yet for your child?