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Effects of divorce on the financial aid process

Sometimes, a married couple with children will decide to get a divorce. A divorce can have impacts on many things. One thing a divorce can have impacts on are what parents need to do in the financial aid process when their children are college-bound. Generally, when the parents of a child that is college-bound are divorced, there will be certain differences in what the parents need to do in the financial aid process in comparison to what would have been done if the parents were still married.

One of the major forms regarding financial aid for college is the Fafsa (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Filling out this form is a requirement for qualifying for federal financial aid.

If the child the Fafsa is for has divorced parents, the form is to be filed by only one of the parents. Specifically, it is to be filed by the child's "custodial" parent. Generally, for the purposes of the Fafsa, a child's "custodial" parent is the parent the child has spent a majority of their time living with in the year leading up to the day of the filing of the form. It is very important that the parent who files the Fafsa actually is the one who qualifies as the "custodial" parent, otherwise problems could arise in the financial aid process.

Thus, one thing divorced parents may want to do if they have children that are getting close to the age where they may be applying for colleges is to keep track of who the children are living with when, so they will know who the "custodial" parent is when it comes to the Fafsa.

Another thing divorced parents will want to keep in mind when it comes to the financial aid process for college is that some colleges will have special requirements regarding what information needs to be provided in regards to children of divorced parents. For example, some schools, in their financial aid processes, require that financial information be provided by not only the custodial parent, but also the non-custodial parent. Checking in advance with the colleges a child is applying to can help ensure one knows what specific requirements they need to meet in the financial aid process.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Financial Aid and Divorce," Rachel Louise Ensign, Dec. 28, 2012

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