Going to college? Divorce can affect financial aid opportunities

Preparing for college involves more than just getting good grades, taking the SATs and being involved in extracurricular activities. Preparing for college also means figuring out how you're going to afford college. One important step many students in Kentucky take is completing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Qualifying for financial aid is often a crucial component of one's college education, so it is important that your FAFSA application is complete and accurate. This can sometimes be challenging, particularly if the student's parents are divorced. For this reason, parents in Kentucky who are seeking a divorce should understand how their child custody situations can affect their child's ability to apply for financial aid.

If a student's parents are divorced and they reside in different households, the FAFSA will only take the income of the custodial parent into account. This can be difficult to ascertain in shared custody situations. However, for the purposes of the FAFSA, the custodial parent is the one with whom the student resided with the most in the past year, or the parent that supported the student the most, financially. That means that the custodial parent for FAFSA purposes is not always the one who was granted legal custody of the student in their divorce.

It may be necessary to provide information about the divorce on the FAFSA. Sometimes the actual divorce decree needs to be provided. Also, if the custodial parent either pays or receives child support, this needs to be included on the FAFSA

What happens if the custodial parent enters into a new marriage post divorce? If this is the case, the stepparent should be included in the FAFSA, but not when it comes to listing each parent's educational status. For that, students should list the highest level of education obtained by their biological parents, even if they have divorced.

Being able to afford college is very important to Kentucky students who hope to further their education and ultimately land a good job upon graduation. Many rely on financial aid to achieve these goals. When you add divorce into the mix, the FAFSA process can become pretty complex pretty quickly. A Kentucky family law attorney may be able to educate parents on how their divorce affects their child's ability to apply for financial aid. Parents may want to keep this information in mind when making decisions related to child custody.