Frequently Asked Questions – Completing the FAFSA


Q. What is Fletcher’s school code?
A. Fletcher’s school code is 013580.
Q. If I have a parent who is enrolled in college or university, can this parent be counted as a family member in college when calculating my financial aid?
A. Under normal situations a parent cannot be included as part of the “number of family members in college”. However, certain circumstances may warrant the inclusion; contact the Office of Financial Aid for more information.
Q. My parents have a lot of debts. Where are expenses reported on the FAFSA?
A. There is no specific section that you list expenses. The formula used by the Federal processor to calculate the Expected Family Contribution assumes that a certain amount of income is needed to support a family. Also, it is based on the household size and the number of family members in college. The Federal financial aid methodology does not make allowances for different lifestyle choices, which often influence the amount of a family’s living expenses.
Q. I’m going to be married during the school year for which I am applying for aid. Can I fill out my FAFSA as “married”?
A. No. You must indicate your marital status as of the date you are completing the FAFSA. Once you have indicated your marital status you cannot change that status for the academic year that you have applied for financial aid.
Q. My parents are separated or divorced. Whose information should be given on the FAFSA?
A. On the application, information should be given for the parent you lived with the most in the last 12 months. If you don’t live with either parent or lived with both parents for an equal number of days, information should be given for the parent who provided the greater amount of support to you during the last calender year. FAFSA instructions have information that will be helpful if you have questions about providing information from separated or divorced parents. If the parent that you reported has remarried, you must also include information about your stepparent on the FAFSA. Your stepparent must be included, regardless of the marriage date or the stepparent’s intent to provide financial support for you. If you receive financial support from the parent not reported also, you should report this as an Other Untaxed Income amount on the FAFSA.
Q. My custodial parent remarried and signed a prenuptial agreement that absolves the step-parent from financial responsibility for my education. Why does my step-parent have to provide financial information on the FAFSA?
A. Prenuptial agreements are ignored by the federal need analysis process. After all, two individuals (parent and step-parent) cannot make an agreement between them that is binding on the third party (the federal government). The federal government considers the step-parent a source of support regardless of any prenuptial agreements to the contrary. If a step-parent marries the parent, he or she is considered responsible for supporting the parent and children even if he or she is unwilling to do so.
Q. What does it take to be considered an independent student?
A. In determining whether you are independent, our office is required to adhere to the standard definition of independent status as outlined by the United States Department of Education. To be considered an independent student for financial aid consideration, you must be able to answer “yes” to at least one of the thirteen questions in Step Three of the FAFSA. If you cannot answer “yes” to at least one of the questions in Step Three, you are considered a dependent student and should include parental information on the FAFSA.
Q. My parents don’t want to fill out the FAFSA. Can I use only my information?
A. If none of the dependency status questions on the FAFSA apply to you, the parental information is required because you are classified as a dependent student for financial aid purposes. However, under limited circumstances you may be able to submit your FAFSA without parental information. If you are unable to provide parental information, skip steps 4 and 5. Once you have submitted your FAFSA without parental data, YOU MUST FOLLOW UP WITH THE FINANCIAL AID OFFICE in order to complete your FAFSA.
Q. My parents don’t claim me on their tax return and don’t give me any money. Can I file as “Independent”?
A. The definition of an independent student is very narrowly defined by law and impacts many students who consider themselves “independent.” See “What does it take to be considered an independent student?”
Q. I am really independent, why do I have to apply for financial aid using my parent’s income and asset information?
A. The definition of an independent student is very narrowly defined by law and impacts many students who consider themselves “independent.” See “what does it take to be considered an independent student?”
Q. I’m moving out of my parent’s house and will support myself from now on. Do my parents still have to fill out the FAFSA?
A. Students under 24 years of age are considered dependent on their parents by federal law no matter where they live (there are limited exceptions – please note them in the FAFSA instructions). If your parents do not provide their information on your application, you probably cannot be considered for aid. If you have special circumstances that make it impossible for your parents to complete the application, contact us. See “what does it take to be considered an independent student?”
Q. What happens if my parents decide they will not provide any financial assistance (Expected Family Contribution) towards my college expenses?
A. The federal student aid programs are based on the premise that students (and their parents, or spouse, if applicable) have the primary responsibility of paying for their college education. You are encouraged to seek scholarships. You can also seek employment. Additionally, you may want to consider a student loan. If mitigating circumstances apply, contact our office.
Q. What if my or my parent’s income has changed significantly since I completed my FAFSA?
A. If you or someone in your household has experienced a loss or change of income since you completed the FAFSA, please contact our office for more information on special circumstances. Specific information will be needed from those in the household affected.