Do I need to report my legal guardian's income on the FAFSA?


I am currently in a legal guardianship. I am applying as an independent student. Should I report my guardian’s income or not, since they will not pay my college costs?


If a student is in a court-ordered legal guardianship, the student is considered to be an independent student. The legal guardianship must have been granted by a court of competent jurisdiction in the student’s state of legal residence. A student who is in a legal guardianship to his or her parents is not considered to be an independent student. If the legal guardianship was not court-ordered, but arranged by an attorney, it does not make the student an independent student.

Regardless of a student’s status as a dependent or independent student, the income and assets of a legal guardian are not reported on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). A legal guardian is not considered to be a parent for federal student aid purposes unless the guardian has adopted the student. The legal guardian and the guardian’s children and legal dependents are also not counted in the student’s household size. However, any cash support provided to the student by the legal guardian is reported as untaxed income to the student on the student’s FAFSA. Cash support includes college costs, money, gifts, loans, housing, food, clothing, medical/dental care, car payments, insurance, cell phone expenses and any other costs paid by the guardian that the student would otherwise have to pay.

If the student is an independent student, the student completes the FAFSA without parental information.

If the student is a dependent student, however, the student must include parental information on the FAFSA. Parents refusing to pay for college or to complete the FAFSA is not sufficient justification for a dependency override, even if the parents do not claim the student as an exemption on their federal income tax returns and even if the student is financially self-sufficient.