Home Fafsa FAFSA Tutorial: Step-by-Step Parent Demographic Information

Parent Demographic Information

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Who is Your FAFSA Parent?

If you are required, and able, to provide parental information, then you need to determine who is considered your parent(s) for the FAFSA®.

COMMON SITUATIONS HOW TO ANSWER FOR FAFSA
Living with a guardian who has not legally adopted you.

Common guardians, such as grandparents/foster Parents/legal guardians/older siblings/aunts or uncles, are not considered your parent(s) when filing the FAFSA unless they have legally adopted you.

If this is you, make sure you answered the dependency questions accurately, there are two outcomes for this scenario based on your dependency status determination.
  • You are deemed an independent student according to the FAFSA. You will not need to provide parental information.
  • You are deemed a dependent student according to the FAFSA. You will need to provide parental information of a parent—not your guardian.
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.
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.
Parents are divorced or separated and DON’T live together Answer the questions for the parent whom you:
  • Lived with more during the past 12 months. Was your time split equally? Then…
  • Who provided you with the most financial support for the last 12 months when you received support? Still equal? Then…
  • Talk to your financial aid office. They will make the decision for you.
If your parents are separated but 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. This is another scenario where the dependency status questions could determine you are an independent student for FAFSA purposes, and will not need to provide parental information.
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FAFSA Parent(s) Demographic Information

Marital Status

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 an 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 an 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. (e.g., enter “R” for a parent with the name Ryan).

Date of birth

Email address (optional)

State of Legal Residence

This question is asking if your parents have live in the state you have indicated you lived in for at least five years. If they have, indicate “Yes”. If they haven’t, indicate “No”, the FAFSA will ask further questions to determine when your parents because legal residents of the state they indicated.

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