Parents and students in Louisiana may have access to FAFSA applications from as early as October 1. However, many people procrastinate. Parents may also feel confused about how to handle the applications if they recently divorced or if either parent remarried.
Proactive parents begin the conversation about who is paying for college at the time of divorce. This is true even if the kids are toddlers or have not yet expressed an interest in going to college. CNBC points out that some states actually require divorcing parents to figure out how they will split contributions to a child’s college education.
Note that when parents divorce or remarry, it does affect the child’s eligibility for financial aid if they need it. Another factor that may affect eligibility is the owner of the 529 college savings account. If the child or custodial parent does not own the account, it may reduce the financial aid the college hopeful received by as much as half.
Some parents may try to work around this by putting the noncustodial parent as the custodial parent if the account is in their name. However, colleges have the right to ask for the divorce decree to verify the information submitted.
According to NerdWallet, for FAFSA purposes, students should list the financial information for the parent they lived with most over the past 12-month period. If children spent equal time with both parents, then use financial contributions to decide. Note that if the custodial parent remarries, then their spouse’s information may also affect financial aid eligibility.