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How Do Divorced Parents Apply for College Financial Aid?

Posted on in Child Support

How Do Divorced Parents Apply for College Financial Aid?It is difficult to pay for a college education without some form of financial aid. Grants, scholarships, and loans can help cover the tens of thousands of dollars that it may cost to attend a four-year institution. Many students and their parents will use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see which sources of financial aid are available to them. When filling out the FAFSA form, parents must submit their recent financial records to determine which financial aid resources they qualify for. The application process is more complicated for parents who have divorced.

Who Fills Out the FAFSA Application?

Only one divorced parent will file the FAFSA application because only one of the parents will report their income. The Higher Education Act of 1965 includes a section explaining which parent must report their income if the parents are divorced or separated:

  • The filing parent is the one with whom the child has spent a majority of the time in the 12 months prior to the date of the application.
  • If the parenting time is exactly even, then the parent who contributed the most to child support in the past 12 months must fill out the form.
  • If neither parent contributed to child support in the past 12 months, then they will go back to the most recent calendar year in which child support was paid.
  • If parents have evenly split their child support costs, then the application reviewers may decide based on criteria such as which parent has a greater income.

What Counts as Income?

The filing parent must submit current federal income tax returns and records of any untaxed sources of income. Their income includes child support and spousal maintenance payments that they receive from the other parent. If the filing parent has remarried as of the date of the application, they must include their new spouse’s income.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

Though the child support obligation to a child ends when the child is no longer a minor, parents can reach a continued child support agreement to share the cost of college. Paying for a student’s college education becomes more manageable if both parents contribute. A contractual agreement prevents the paying parent from shirking this responsibility while also holding the receiving parent and student accountable for maintaining academic performance and spending responsibly. Talk to a Kane County family law attorney at Goostree Law Group about how you can create a new child support agreement for college. Free consultations are available by calling 630-584-4800.


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