General Question

smile1's avatar

FAFSA Application: Better to enter parents as separated or married?

Asked by smile1 (493points) January 3rd, 2012

Im currently filling out the federal financial aid application, FAFSA.

For those who know about this stuff…

My parents are separated (but still legally married). They live in separate states. But my Mom is the only source of income. My dad doesnt make any money. But my mom still supports him by giving him money to live off of. Which way is the best way to put this on my form (while, of course being truthful) to get the most scholarships?


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10 Answers

Aethelflaed's avatar

Ask your school; they’ll know more about maximizing your financial aid possibilities.

muppetish's avatar

My best guess is that it would be better to file them as separated. The thing they take into more consideration is that your mom is the person financially supporting your family essentially without a marital partner. I don’t see why it would be better to list them as married – they aren’t examining this socially, but economically.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@muppetish It depends on if there’s a marriage benefit in there for some reason, like when filing taxes.

cazzie's avatar

Marriage Benefit? in the US? Is there such a thing? and could they possibly get that, legally, if they are separated, living in separate States? They don’t file joint returns anymore? or won’t be in the next tax year?

Put separated with your mother’s income listed as the only source of support and see if you can show that your father is a dependent as well, if there is any sort of signed agreement between the two of them, like a type of alimony agreement. If you are hoping for financial aid, you will want demonstrate need.

Check with your school adviser if any of this is possible. They’ll know these forms better than most of us.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@smile1 First question: How long have they been apart? More than 12 months? I would suggest using your mom’s income on the form and showing dad’s income as zero. Be careful about trying to claim he is your mom’s dependent. If you have other questions on this PM me. My nieces and nephew are done with these, but we used to do pizza parties with them and their friends to fill the FASFAs out.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@cazzie Yes, there are lots of tax breaks and other benefits given to married people in the US. And it goes for people who are still legally married, regardless of if they are living together, or in the same state, or have spoken to each other in the past 3 years, or… The separation has to be legal (we have legal separations) in order for it to mean anything, and then it creates this weird gray area. And, is usually just as expensive and hard to get as a divorce, so most people don’t bother with it.

janbb's avatar

Best just be truthful. It will be obvious anyway from their returns and shouldn’t hurt you since your Dad has no income.

tedd's avatar

My FAFSA papers didn’t even ask for my dad’s income, so I would guess separated. But be aware, they may check on that.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think you are actually suppose to do it according to how they filed their taxes (married, single, etc).

cazzie's avatar

@Aethelflaed Oh.. when I hear ‘benefit’ I think of a direct monthly payment. What you guys are referring to is tax benefits of being married and filing jointly.. that sort of thing. Right. Gotcha.

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