A Parent’s Guide to the FAFSA: Parent Demographics
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Vinay Bhaskara in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
- Whose Information Should I Provide?
- Parent Marital Status
- Entering Parent Information
- Parent State of Legal Residence
- Dependent and Household Information
Whose Information Should I Provide?
After completing the first three sections of the FAFSA, “Student Demographics,” “School Selection,” and “Dependency Status”, the next section is where it begins to ask for information about the parents.
The first page of this section will read: “Whose Information Should I Provide.” This page includes more in-depth information about different family circumstances to help you determine which, if any, parent information needs to be provided. After reading through this page you can click “Continue” to move on to the next page, “Parent Marital Status.”
Parent Marital Status
The first question that will be asked on this page is about the marital status of your parents. You will be able to choose from the following options: never married, unmarried, married or remarried, divorced or separated, or widowed. Note that separation, in the context of the FAFSA, is treated in the same way as divorce.
Let’s say that, for example, your parents are married. After selecting that option, you next need to enter in the month and year that your parents got married. If your parents are divorced or separated, then you will need to include the date of the divorce.
After filling out the remaining information on the “Parent Marital Status” page, you can click “Continue” to move forward to the next section, “Enter Information for Your First Parent.”
Entering Parent Information
In this section, you will either include information for one or two parents – unless you were declared independent in the “Dependency Status” section. If your parents are married or unmarried but they live together, you need to enter in the information for both parents. If your parents are divorced or separated, you will only include one parent’s information. If a parent is widowed or never married, then you only have to enter the information for one parent as well.
The first question in this section will prompt you to enter a parent’s Social Security Number. If a parent does not have a Social Security Number, or uses an ITIN number to file taxes, you can type “000-00-0000” in the Social Security Number field.
Following this, you will be asked to enter in the parent’s last name, first initial, date of birth, and email address. While the last name, first initial, and date of birth sections are required, the parent email address field is optional.
After entering parent information for the required parents, click “Continue” to move forward to the next page, “Parent State of Legal Residence.”
Parent State of Legal Residence
The next element that arises is the parent state of legal residence. This may not necessarily matter as much for federal financial aid, but it does often impact how certain colleges apply state level financial aid programs, since some states use the FAFSA to administer in-state financial aid programs.
The first question asks about your parent’s home state and whether they have lived in that state for at least 5 years. If the answer is yes, then you can move forward to the next page. If the answer is no, then you will need to answer a few more questions regarding their current legal residence, and when they became a legal resident of the state they currently live in. After completing this page, click “Continue” to move forward to the next section, “Enter Information for Your Parents’ Dependents.”
Dependent and Household Information
This page is where you will be asked questions about the dependents in your family, not including the student who is completing the FAFSA application.
For the first question, “How many other dependent children do your parents have?”, if there are other dependent children in your family who will rely on the parents for more than half of their financial support during the year of this FAFSA application then include them here. For the 2023-2024 FAFSA, this will be between July 1st, 2023 and June 30th, 2024. For example, if a parent has two children, including the student applying for the FAFSA, then they would put “1” in the box for this question.
The next question asks, “How many other dependents do your parents have?” Here you will list any additional dependents that the parents may have. For example, if your family has another individual who lives with you, receives more than half of their support from your parents and will continue to receive that support during the FAFSA year, then include them here. This could potentially be someone like a grandparent, uncle, nephew, or other family member.
Parent Household Information
After completing the dependent information, you will move forward to the “Parent Household Information” page. On this page, you will see your overall household size based on the information you entered in the dependent and parent information sections, as well as a question about the number of dependents that will be in college during the FAFSA year. When responding to this question, you don’t include the parents, but you do include the student and other members of the household who will be in college during the FAFSA year.
Once you have responded to the “Number in College” question and click “Continue,” you are finished with the Parent Demographics section. Congratulations! Now you will move on to the next section of the FAFSA which is “Parent Financials.”