Financial Aid FAQs
Related to Parents
Q. What if I don't have my W-2s yet, and my parents' tax returns are not completed?
Although you can apply for financial aid any time after January 1st, you should wait until you receive your W-2 forms. These provide a fairly accurate estimate of your earnings. Although you can use estimated information on your FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application, it is recommended that you file it using a completed tax return for better accuracy. If necessary, you may correct the information submitted on the FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application when you receive your Student Aid Report, or provide your college with a copy of your tax return transcript (check with the Financial Aid Office to see if they need your tax return transcript). Also, if you use estimated information, your Financial Aid eligibility may be revised once you update your income information. Make sure you submit the FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application before March 2 in order to meet the Cal Grant deadline.
Q. I don't meet any of the criteria for an independent student, but my parents don't support me. What can I do?
If you have an extremely adverse circumstance that prevents you from receiving assistance from your parents, you should contact the Financial Aid Office. However, you should note that your parents' unwillingness to provide their financial information or to pay their expected contribution is not accepted as an adverse circumstance.
Q. My parents don't support me. Do I still need to include their information on the FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application?
If you don't meet one of the federal criteria to be an independent student, you will have to supply your parents' information on the Financial Aid application. If extenuating family circumstances prevent you from supplying your parents' information, contact the Financial Aid Office to discuss your situation.
Q. My parents are separated or divorced. Which parent is responsible for filling out the FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application?
If your parents are separated or divorced, the custodial parent is responsible for filling out the FAFSA. The custodial parent is the parent with whom you lived the most during the past 12 months. Note that this is not necessarily the same as the parent who has legal custody. If you did not live with one parent more than the other, the parent who provided you with the most financial support should fill out the financial aid application. This is probably the parent who claimed you as a dependent on their tax return. If you have not received any support from either parent during the past 12 months, use the most recent calendar year for which you received some support from a parent or lived with either parent. Note, however, that any child support and/or alimony received from the non-custodial parent must be included on the financial aid application.
Q. My parents are divorced and I am currently living with my father. He remarried New Year's Day 2011. Do I have to report my stepmother's 2010 income?
Yes, even though your father and stepmother were not married in 2010. When he completes Step Four of the FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application, the term "parents" includes your stepmother.
Q. My custodial parent remarried and signed a prenuptial agreement that absolves the stepparent from financial responsibility for my education. Why does my stepparent have to provide financial information on the FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application?
Prenuptial agreements are ignored by FAFSA and CA Dream Act Application. The federal government and CA Student Aid Commission consider the stepparent a source of support regardless of any prenuptial agreements to the contrary.
Q. If my parents live and work in another country, do I still need to report their information?
Yes, you still have to report your parents' personal and financial information until you meet the federal criteria for an independent student. Please remember to convert their income information into U.S. dollars. Unless your parents already have their social security numbers, please list zeros (000-00-0000).