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Divorce and college financial aid

Parents of college-bound children in Texas and elsewhere that seek financial aid are usually required to fill out a standardized application form that is used by most public colleges and universities. This form, known as FAFSA, requires certain financial disclosures to be made. However, some of the disclosures differ depending upon the marital status of the parents. In the case of divorced parents, Child custody plays a role, especially in terms of where the young person is deemed to reside.

For purposes of FAFSA, it is irrelevant who claimed the child as a dependent for federal income tax purposes. Payment of child support is also irrelevant. The determining factor is who the child lived with for the majority of the preceding 12-month period ending on the date of the application. Only the income of that parent need be disclosed on the application. However, in the case of a custodial parent who has remarried, the income of the new spouse has to be disclosed as well.

While FAFSA is used by most public institutions, several private colleges and universities have their own individual forms. In some of those applications, aggregate parental income has to be disclosed regardless of the marital status of the parents.

Child custody can be a big factor in many areas of life for divorced parents. An attorney with a background in family law may be able to advise a parent going through a divorce as to some of the issues that may arise, and may be able to help negotiate and prepare agreements that reflect arrangements designed to further the best interests of the children involved.

Source: Money Watch, "How does divorce affect college financial aid?", Lynn O'Shaughnessy, September 27, 2013

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