Mapping Your Future: Nine reasons why a student wouldn't ask a parent to provide information on the FAFSA


Nine reasons why a student wouldn't ask a parent to provide information on the FAFSA

By Catherine Mueller

May 01, 2024

For most students, applying for financial aid for college is not a solo act.

In other words, students who are under the age of 24 must ask their parent or parents to contribute to their FAFSA – unless they have personal or unusual circumstances that exempt them from including parent information. If a student is married, they will be required to ask their spouse to contribute information to the FAFSA.

Even if a student is living on their own and not being supported financially by their parents, the student (as long as they are under age 24) will still be required to provide parent information on the FAFSA.

In addition to being age 24 or older, some of the personal or unusual circumstances which would exempt a student from asking a parent to contribute to a FAFSA include:

  1. The student is married.
  2. The student has children who live with them and receive more than half of their support from the student now and during the academic year for which they are seeking financial aid.
  3. The student is serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces or is a veteran of the U.S. armed forces.
  4. At any time after age 13, the student became a ward of the court, was in foster care, or was an orphan with no living biological or adoptive parent.
  5. The student is in legal guardianship.
  6. The student was a legally emancipated minor as determined by a court in the student’s state of residence.
  7. The student is homeless or at risk of homelessness. This does require a certification by a school district, social service agency, or by the school or college financial aid office.
  8. The student has unusual circumstances in which it would be dangerous or impossible to contact a parent(s). For example, the student left home due to a threatening or abusive environment and contacting the parents could pose a risk to the student.
  9. The student is going to college for an advanced degree, such as a master’s or doctoral degree. In those cases, the student would only be eligible for loans from the federal government but may be eligible for need-based aid from other organizations and/or the institution they plan to attend.

If the student is unwilling to ask the parents (maybe they don’t get along) and/or the parents just refuse to provide information, the student can fill out the FAFSA, but they won’t be considered for need-based aid in this type of situation. They would need to answer yes to the “unsubsidized direct student loan only” question and they wouldn’t have to provide parent information.