Many Fort Meyers residents have high school-aged children who are preparing for college. These days, with college tuition rates the way that they are, most Florida students do need to take out student loans and/or seek grants and scholarships. A lot of Florida families may not realize that a divorce will affect their children's financial aid processes.
In order to apply for financial aid, parents must file the Free Application for Student Aid for their children. When parents are married, each parent must provide their financial information on this form, and that information is then used to determine what financial aid options their child will be offered. When parents are divorced, only one parent should fill out the FAFSA.
The parent who fills out the FAFSA is the one with whom the child has lived for the majority of the previous 12 months leading up to the filing date. All that should be considered here is the residential status of the student. Whether another parent pays child support does not need to be considered. Whether another parent claims the student on his or her taxes does not need to be considered.
In cases in which parents shared custody 50/50, the parent who should fill out the FAFSA would be the one who provided the most financial support to the child in the previous 12 months.
If the parent who fills out the FAFSA is remarried, the new spouses's income must also be included on the FAFSA.
Florida families may wish to consider FAFSA concerns when they plan out their child custody arrangements. Students are likely to be offered a more generous financial aid package if the parent represented on the FAFSA is the lower earner.
Those who are going through a divorce may also wish to talk to their family law attorneys about their children's education costs. It is often possible to address plans for tuition responsibilities during the divorce process.
Source: CBS News, "How does divorce affect college financial aid," Lynn O'Shaughnessy, Sept. 27, 2013