Every year, college students complete the Federal Application for Student Aid, commonly known as the FAFSA.  This application is used to determine each student’s level of financial need.  Marital status plays a big part in determining your financial need, because financial aid need is determined by income, and marital status affects whether you can file as a dependent or independent filer.

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Generally students classified as dependent are unmarried, and under the age of 24.  Students that are classified as dependent will include their parents’ income and assets in the FAFSA application, and the parents will be expected to contribute a certain amount of money to the cost of the education, depending on the parents’ income and assets.  If the parents have a high income, the student’s financial aid package may assume a higher contribution in funds from the parents, potentially resulting in fewer loans in grants.

When a student goes from single to married, the FAFSA filer may be able to file as an independent student, and the parents’ financial situation would not be counted in the calculation, which might result in a more loans and grants for the student.  On the other hand, if a student is married, the new spouse’s income would be counted into the calculation instead.

If a student anticipates a change in marital status, it’s important to speak to a financial aid adviser at the school to determine exactly when to file the FAFSA in the year that the change happens, since the FAFSA takes your marital status on the date of filing.

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