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Articles / Paying for College / Will Divorced Dad's Income Affect EFC?

July 23, 2013

Will Divorced Dad's Income Affect EFC?

Question: My parents are divorced, and I live with my mom. It’s just her and me in our house. Once I turn 18, my dad is legally not required by the state of Florida to support me financially (i.e. pay for my postsecondary education.) Since this is the case, will my family’s expected contribution be based on just my mother’s income? I don’t work. My mom is the sole provider in our household.

Even if your father’s divorce decree does not require him to support you past age 18, colleges that require financial information from both parents will still use his income and assets to determine your financial aid. Well, that’s the BAD news. But there is also some GOOD news:

1. Many colleges require just the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA asks for financial information from the custodial parent alone. So, at these schools, your EFC will be based on ONLY your mother’s information.

2. Many private colleges (especially the more selective ones) as well as some public colleges, also require the CSS Profile Form (or their own similar form). The Profile seeks information from BOTH parents, even when they are divorced. Here is a list of colleges that require this form:https://profileonline.collegeboard.org/prf/PXRemotePartInstitutionServlet/PXRemotePartInstitutionServlet.srv

That may not sound like good news … and perhaps it isn’t. BUT … if your parents’ divorce isn’t recent, you can write a letter to financial aid officers and explain this. College officials may be lenient and will discount your father’s income when they assess your financial need.

In general, a parent’s ABILITY to pay and not the WILLINGNESS to pay will determine a financial aid award. So if your dad refuses to contribute to your college costs, it might hurt you at some institutions. However, the FAFSA-only colleges will not look at his data at all.


Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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