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Professional Judgment
 
Parent Remarries after Application Date

When the custodial parent of a dependent student remarries after the FAFSA application date but before the verification date, the applicant is required to update the household size to include the stepparent if the application is selected for verification. (Note that the applicant may not update household size or number in college due to a change in the applicant's marital status, only for a change in the parent's marital status.) There is no requirement, however, to update parent income and assets to include the stepparent's income and assets. (See Section 475(f)(3) of the Higher Education Act, excerpted below, and 34 CFR 668.55(b).) However, it is appropriate for the school to use professional judgment to make adjustments for the stepparent's finances.

Note that if the student's parents got divorced after the application date and the custodial parent remarried, it is not appropriate to count the finances of both the ex-spouse and the stepparent. It should be one or the other. Generally speaking there should be a preference for the finances of the parent that is married to the custodial parent during the award year, but there is no requirement to make such an adjustment.

Section 475(f)(3) of the Higher Education Act

  1. REMARRIED PARENTS. -- If a parent whose income and assets are taken into account under paragraph (1) of this subsection, or if a parent who is a widow or widower and whose income is taken into account under paragraph (2) of this subsection, has remarried, the income of that parentís spouse shall be included in determining the parentís adjusted available income only if --
    1. the studentís parent and the stepparent are married as of the date of application for the award year concerned; and
    2. the student is not an independent student.

Section 481(l)(1)(C) of the Higher Education Act

  1. FAMILY SIZE. --
    1. In determining family size in the case of a dependent student --
      1. if the parents are divorced and the parent whose income is so included is remarried, or if the parent was a widow or widower who has remarried, family members also include, in addition to those individuals referred to in subparagraph (B), the new spouse and any dependents of the new spouse if that spouseís income is included in determining the parentsí adjusted available income.

34 CFR 668.55(b)

  1. If the number of family members in the applicant's household or the number of those household members attending postsecondary educational institutions changes for a reason other than a change in the applicant's marital status, an applicant who is selected for verification shall update the information contained in his or her application regarding those factors so that the information is correct as of the day the applicant verifies the information.

 

 
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