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The parent with primary physical custody files for financial aid

There are a number of parents in Acworth who have contemplated divorce but try to work things out "for the children." Once the children move out and go to college, however, there are a number of couples who choose to finally end an unhappy marriage. Although it may be difficult for a child to return home from college to learn that his or her parents are divorcing, there are very practical questions that a young adult may have, including which parent will file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

The simple answer is that whichever parent has had primary physical custody of the child in the year prior to signing the application will apply. It is that parent's income that will be considered when applying for financial aid, regardless of whether he or she has more or less income than the other parent. This can be a boon for a college student living with the parent who makes less money, but more difficult if he or she is living with the parent who makes more.

Of course, if the parent with primary physical custody remarries, then both the parent and the step-parent's combined income must be considered. Ultimately, these considerations should be discussed during divorce settlement negotiations.

Though these are the rules for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, there are a growing number of mostly private schools that are using the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE to collect financial information from both parents, regardless of who has primary physical custody.

Source: CBS, "How does divorce affect college financial aid?" Lynn O'Shaughnessy, Sept. 27, 2013

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