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Step Parent Income and the FAFSA

GrudgingSM's picture

What have peoples experiences been with their income as a step parent being included in documents like FAFSA for college? We keep our finances separate and Im not contributing to slid college expenses, but a friend mentioned my income would still go on that worksheet. For those who've sent skids off to college, did your income get figured into the equation?


ndc's picture

If your spouse is the custodial parent,  his income will go on FAFSA and yours will be required as well.  If he's non- custodial (i.e., skid spends more time with the other parent), then the other parent's income goes on FAFSA and neither yours nor your husband's is required.  But that's just FAFSA; many schools require more information - usually the Profile form or their own form. Colleges don't care if you're contributing or even if your husband is contributing,  they still want the information.

Cover1W's picture

Correct. This is what DH and I have learned too. The private school OSD is applying to requires info from both parents 'households' no matter of time/custody. State school only prime custodial.

Do NOT send info to BM. Ask the school directly. You should send info to school.

I hate the whole process. DHs 'household' looks richer because of me while poor single BM (with much support most likely from grandfather not in her household).

....and DH is refusing to pay right now since OSD hasn't spoken to him in two years.

tog redux's picture

My friend and her ex-husband planned it so her income would be the only one for their son - he makes much more and is remarried, while she is not - so having the "poor" household on the form can help.

Tried out's picture

here. The colleges my son applied to - small, pricey liberal arts colleges, mostly - required both incomes. We were screwed because my ex made about 5 times as much as me. The real kicker was our state university requires both incomes but CS stops at 18...

OKtoStep's picture

When my oldest went to college, he would get no fafsa based on my STBex husband's income so Boyo moved out of the house and signed an affidavit swearing he is financially emancipated from us. My dad and I helped with the first semester of tuition before the money kicked in and  I get him groceries sometimes but, in general, the fafsa and other financial aid is WAY better than what we could have offered.

ndc's picture

I wouldn't count on this. Unless you're over 24 or married or supporting a child or or in the military (there's a list of criteria) it's extremely difficult to be considered independent for financial aid purposes. If all it took was moving out and signing an affidavit, everyone would do it.

OKtoStep's picture

For us it did work. Not sure how, it was between BS and stbex. BS has been in college for 2 years now. 

ndc's picture

That's great for your son, but he's the exception and I wouldn't want anyone to rely on that working out for them.

stepper47's picture

It has been a while, so things may have changed or I may be misremembering, but I believe the FAFSA is supposed to include the info of the parent and stepparent that the child primarily stayed with in the prior year. I remember looking into it after we found out BM and SS had filled his out without DH.  SS split his time but an argument could be made for mostly there, so it seemed ok - she had lower income.  For my son we did include DH, who is his stepdad.  My son fortunately had merit scholarships to cover tuition at a local school and opted to stay home, so we were just completing the forms as a formality.   SS ended up with some grants and scholarships, and we helped him cover his housing.  We are assuming DH is not included on SD17's forms since no one has asked for info or even bothered to talk to him about her plans.    SD had commented one time that BM wasn't allowed to marry her live in boyfriend yet because " SD did not grow up "poor" just to end up losing out on financial aid for college" (SD has never lacked for anything)  Not sure if that's true or not, guess we will see if they set a wedding date in 4 years

Rags's picture

Money sucking idiocy.  Grrrrr.  My undergrad was an 11 year process.  While I was in class every semester for all of those 11 years.  After year 8 my divorce was final, I sold my company, and changed universities to to complete my undergrad in engineering.  I applied for grants and loans.  Of course I had to fill out the FASFA.  They insisted that I provide my parent's income. I was 26yo, had been financially independent from my parents for 5 years, and still they wanted my parent's income information.  Nope.  I refused to provide it. What my parents made was none of the university's or government's business in relation to my financial aid

.  So, no grants, no low interest government guaranteed loans. I was eligible only for private supplemental student loans.

I had to provide a pile of documentation to even get those.  The day I went in to turn in my ream of information to the financial aid office there was a  young woman in there enquiring into grants and loans. She and I were side by side at the counter for about 15 mins.  The Reader's Digest version of that 15mins is ... she was told she would have to provide her parent's income information. She lived with her grandmother.  She did not know her father, her mother was on welfare, her grandmother was on welfare. She had to fill out a single page to initiate her financial aid process.  A couple of weeks later I got a notice to come to the financial aid office to sign my checks, etc....  That same young woman was there. She got a pile of grants. Not one loan.  more than $10K of free money. I got private fairly high interest supplemental loans.   That whole process was infuriating.

To this day my eyes glaze over and I see red when the topic of financial aid comes up.

If I were in a SParent situation with a toxic SKid, my answer to providing my financial information for financial aid would be F-NO!

I was fortunate. I was able to pay off my student loans in less than 2 years after graduation.  But... I chose a STEM major and made great money right out of school.  Borrowing a pile of money for a virtually unmarketable education should not be rewarded with loan forgviveness IMHO.

Now that student loan forgiveness is likely, I am of the mind that before one penny goes to dead beat student borrowers, anyone who took out loans and paid them off responsibly should get full reimbursement for their responsible financial choices. Rewarding idiocy just breeds more idiocy.


If I were to participate in the financial aid process for a kid, I would have them sign an agreement to take out loans for their tuition and fees, without my information. If they provided me with Cs or better at the end of that semester... I would pay off their loan for that semester immediately. Lather.... rinse..... repeat for the duration of their degree effort.  Anything less than Cs or better for that semester... the SKid would own that loan.   All or nothing is how I would deal with the semester's loans.