FAFSA Tutorial Step #5: Your Parent's Information
Free FAFSA Guide
If you are required and able, to provide parental information, then you need to determine who is considered your parent(s) for the FAFSA.
Determine What Parental Information to Include on the FAFSA
With so many living situations, figuring out who is considered a parent or which parent’s information to use on the FAFSA can be confusing. Here are several living situations and how you would file the FAFSA for each.
- The following people are not considered your parent when filing the FAFSA unless they have legally adopted you
- Foster parents
- Legal guardians
- Older siblings
- Aunts of uncles
- Parents are legally married and living together
- Answer the questions for both parents.
- Parents are living together, but not married
- Answer the questions for both parents
- Parents are divorced or separated and DON'T live together
- Answer the questions about the parent whom you lived with more during the past twelve months. If you split time equally between both parents, answer the questions about the parent who provided you with the most financial support during the last twelve months (or during the most recent year that you received support from a parent). If you are unable to find a definitive answer, then it’s time to ask your financial aid office at your college or prospective college. They will make the decision for you.
- If your parents are separated by live together
- Indicate their marital status as married or remarried and answer the questions about both.
- If you have a stepparent who is married to the legal parent whose information you are reporting
- You must provide the information for both your legal parent and your stepparent.
- If your stepparent was married to your parent, but your parent passed away
- That stepparent does not count as your parent unless he or she legally adopted you.
- If your parents are in a same-sex marriage
- If your same-sex parents were legally married in a state or jurisdiction that recognizes the marriage, you must report information for both. It does not matter where they currently live or where you are going to school.
Complete Demographics for Your FAFSA Parents
Once you determine which parent’s information to provide, then you must complete your parent(s) demographic information.
The FAFSA will ask your parents marital status, as of today. Because it is looking for information of your current status (as of the day you are completing the FAFSA), you do not report any future plans of marriage, separation, or divorce.
If your parents are married, or your FAFSA parent is remarried, the FAFSA will require information about both married parties (either your parents, or your FAFSA parent and stepparent).
If your parents were never married but both of your legal parents live together, your FAFSA will require information of both parents. If this is your family situation, your parents will be unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool when providing their financial information.
If you answer that your FAFSA parent is never married, divorced or separated, or widowed, then you will only need to provide the information of your FAFSA parent.
If your parents are separated, informal separations are okay, as long as your parents live in separate households. Living on different floors in the same household does not qualify.
If your parents are married, or unmarried and living together, you will need to provide information for each parent.
If your parents are divorced, you will provide information for your FAFSA parent. If your FAFSA parent is remarried, then you will also need to provide information for your FAFSA parent’s spouse (your stepparent).
- Social Security Number (SSN)
If your parent(s) do not have a SSN, that does not make you ineligible for financial aid. Your parents would simply input all zeros with no dashes (e.g., 000000000)
- Last name
If your parent has a SSN, their last name should be entered as it is reported to the Social Security Administration (SSA).
- First initial
Simply enter the first initial of their first name here. (e.g., enter “R” for a parent with the name Ryan)
- Date of birth
- Email address
This question is to determine your FAFSA parent(s) legal residence. If your parent does not live in the United States, then you would enter “FC”.
Household size is an important factor in determining your financial aid eligibility. The online and mobile app will auto-populate information based on assumptions. (e.g., if you are dependent and your FAFSA parent is married, it will assume a household size of 3 – your FAFSA parent, your FAFSA parent’s spouse, and yourself).
Dependent Student Household Size
Your FAFSA parent's household size includes:
- Your FAFSA parent(s)
- Yourself, even if you do not live with your FAFSA parent (the student)
- Your FAFSA parent's other children, even if they do not live with your FAFSA parent, if:
- Your FAFSA parent will provide more than half of their support from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020, or
- These children can answer “No” to the dependency status question on the FAFSA
- Other people if:
- The live with your FAFSA parent
- Your FAFSA parent provides more than half of their support, and
Your FAFSA parent will continue to provide more than of their support from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020
Independent Student Household Size
Your household size includes:
- Your spouse, if married, except if your spouse is not living with you because of death, separation, or divorce
- Your children (including unborn children if they will be born between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2010), if you will provide more than half of their support between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020, even if they do not live with you
- Other people if they now live with you, you provide more than half of their support and will continue to provide more than half of their support between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020
Number in College
This question will also have an impact on our financial aid award. Here you want to enter the number of people in your FAFSA parent’s household who will attend college between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.
- Yourself, even if you will attend college less than half-time in the 2019-2020 award year.
- Other people in your FAFSA parent’s household only if they are enrolled or will be enrolled in college at least half-time in 2019-2020, in a program which leads to a college degree or certificate.
Do not include:
- Your parents, even if they are enrolled at least half-time in 2019-2020 in a program leading to a degree or a certificate.
- Students at a U.S. service academy because most of their primary educational expenses are paid for by the federal government.