FAFSA and Marriage

What is the fafsa? When should I apply for financial aid?

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FAFSA and Marriage

Postby SimonSays » Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:05 pm

Hello All,
So here is my situation:
I will be graduating this April (I have never been eligible for FAFSA as a student).
My fiancee will be graduating in December of this year (she needs to take Summer and Fall courses). She attends a public university in Florida (and has gotten FAFSA every semester), and we will be living in Florida.
We are getting married the first week of May.
Should we file our paperwork right after we get married, or should she file the paperwork before we get married?

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Re: FAFSA and Marriage

Postby pahern11 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 3:22 pm

First of all, are you still listed as a dependent student? If so, getting married will qualify you as independent, which means that your parents' incomes will not impact your FAFSA. If you already qualify as independent, then you should submit the FAFSA prior to getting married, as yours and your spouse's income will be combined if you wait until after the wedding to submit the FAFSA, thus making you less likely to receive federal aid
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Re: FAFSA and Marriage

Postby SimonSays » Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:34 pm

Thanks for your response. I am indeed still a dependent student for the time being.
Additionally, I do not currently hold a job, so I won't have any significant income for 2013 when May rolls around. So it sounds like we should file right after we get married, because she will be the only one with any income for the year?
Also, will the amount that she (we?) receives be different because of her married status?
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Re: FAFSA and Marriage

Postby steve.blank » Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:37 am

There are several factors to consider as to when she should submit the FAFSA.

I'm going to assume that she is currently a dependent student - meaning that she currently has to provide parent information on the FAFSA.
If she applies after marriage, she would be an independent student and parent information is not required. But it will then requre her husband's income and assets. This could make a big change in her aid eligibility depending on your 2012 income and your assets at the time she files.

If she has received satisfactory financial aid in the past and nothing much has changed, she should expect similar aid by applying before the marriage.
If she applies after the marriage then it will only require income of the two of you - if you have a low income compared to her parents she might be eligible for more aid. But of course it doesn't mean that the school will give her more (unless she becomes Pell Grant eligible and wasn't before) and if she has already received school-provided grants she might be applying too late for them if she waits until May - check her deadline.

You can get an idea of what her Expected Family Contribution would be after marriage by completing a FAFSA4caster at the FAFSA homepage fafsa.ed.gov. The FAFSA4caster link is in the lower right corner. Then compare it to what she had for an EFC this past year using parent info, or even doing a 2nd 4caster with current parent info.
Steven Blank
College Financial Aid Consultants
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