How Is Financial Aid Determined?

Q: My parents are divorced. How will that affect my eligibility for financial aid?

A: This is a great question because applying for financial aid can get very complicated when parents are divorced. All students who apply for financial aid need to complete the FAFSA at This form requires the help of a parent to enter income and asset information.

In general, the rule is that the custodial parent is the person responsible for completing the FAFSA. So whichever parent the student resides with the majority of the time will need to help the student complete the form. Only the income and assets of the custodial parent will be considered.  

However, keep in mind that while the government does not consider the income and assets of the non-custodial parent, some private colleges may consider the income of the non-custodial parent.

So, the financial aid process may ask for income information from both parents, but eligibility for student loans will be based on the income and assets of the custodial parent. Also keep in mind that if the custodial parent is remarried, the income and assets of the stepparent will also be considered in the financial aid calculation.

If you are concerned that your income and assets will make you ineligible for the financial aid resources you need, use an EFC Calculator to determine what you may be expected to contribute. Many different EFC Calculators are available on the Internet.

Get More Great FAFSA Tips

Which Student Loan Is Best?