3. FAFSA: Custodial parent's household
When filling out the form, it's important to keep in mind how the info you provide is based on your custodial parent's household. "FAFSA is completed on the basis of the biological parent with whom the student lived the greater portion of the 12 months prior to FAFSA completion," says Ed Irish, director of financial aid at the College of William and Mary. "If the student lived equal time with both biological parents, the parent who provided the greater amount of financial support should be listed.”
For students with divorced parents who have remarried, the step-parent's information is also needed.
4. How aid is determined
First, your Estimated Family Contribution is calculated based off the information you provided on FAFSA. Keep in mind that parent assets are counted at 5.6%, while student assets are counted at 20%.
Additionally, IRAs, Roth IRAs and 401(k)s are not accounted for on FAFSA, but the contributions and withdrawals need to be disclosed.
5. Helpful FAFSA tips
Filling out FAFSA is a delicate process, to say the least. To ease and speed up the process, Seton Hall’s director of financial aid, Javonda Asante, offers these pointers when tackling the form:
- When filing the FAFSA, make sure you list the student’s and parent’s full name as listed on their Social Security card. This is one of the most common reasons a FAFSA is not processed, because the FAFSA verifies against the Social Security Administration database. Be sure not to use your nickname (for example, Joe instead of Joseph.)
- Before filing the FAFSA make sure you have copies of the student’s and the parent’s tax returns and Social Security Numbers on hand to help you answer questions properly.
- Have a list of your potential college choices on hands and be sure to include the school's codes on the FAFSA to ensure each school gets the information and provides you with a financial aid package.
6. FAFSA isn't the only financial aid form
Did you know that in addition to FAFSA, there is another form called CSS Profile (College Scholarship Service), run by the College Board and used by private colleges?