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Understanding student financial aid after a divorce

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2022 | Family Law |

Divorced couples often experience difficulty managing financial responsibilities. This is especially true for parents. In New Jersey, divorced parents have questions surrounding the applications for student financial aid. Though every family’s situation is unique, the answers typically circle back to the finances of the custodial parent.

FAFSA paperwork after divorce

The custodial parents fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) paperwork. Typically the custodial parent is the one the child spent the most time living with within the 12 months prior to filling out the FAFSA application. In some divorce cases, the child’s time is evenly split between the parents. In that case, it’s the parent who provided the most financial support.

If the parents are still living together and not yet divorced, then both parents will need to be on the application.

Step-parent’s income

Sometimes, a parent may have already remarried. A step-parent married to a custodial parent will need to be part of the FAFSA application.

Be truthful

It’s not uncommon for divorced couples to attempt to say the child lives with a parent with a lower income so they can receive more benefits from FAFSA. It appears like a strategy to help their child. However, it can cause more problems later. Because it is a fairly common thing for parents to attempt, this is something the system knows to look for. Colleges can ask for verification on any claims made. Make sure you are truthful on your paperwork and include child support or alimony payments as income, as well as any income from a step-parent living with the custodial parent. It will make the process more straightforward in the long term.

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