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Who Counts as a Parent on FAFSA?

Dependent students need to provide information about their legal parent(s) on their FAFSA application.  Completing the FAFSA application is vital to determining your EFC (expected family contribution) and possible financial aid available.  Many schools also want to know your EFC prior to distributing merit aid.

So…who is your legal parent?

A legal parent is your biological or adoptive parent or your legal parent as determined by the state (for example, if the parent is listed on your birth certificate). If you have a stepparent currently married to your legal parent, you generally also must provide information about him or her.  If your legal parents are not married to each other and live together, answer the questions about both of them, regardless of whether your parents are of the same or opposite sex.


My parents are divorced/separated and do not live together  –   Provide information about the parent whom you lived more during the past 12 months.  If you lived equal amount of time with each parent provide information about the parent who provided a larger amount of financial support.


My parents are divorced/separated but live together – You will answer questions about both of them on the FAFSA form.


I have a step–parent – If you have a stepparent who is married to the legal parent whose information you’re reporting, you must provide information about that stepparent as well.


I live with someone other than my legal parents – It doesn’t matter if you don’t live with your parent or parents; you still must report information about them.


My parents are concerned about completing the FAFSA due to their citizenship status – The FAFSA form does not ask about citizenship status

Information provided by Federal Student Aid

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