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Question for the Money Doctors

Question submitted on Apr 17, 2015.


Hello, I am a stepdad of a junior in h.s. We have her 50% of the time, and unfotunately have not had a good relationship with the other home. I'm pretty sure their household income is at least double ours, and that it would be hugely advantageous for Jordyn to claim our home as her primary residence; however, I am sure they will want her to claim their residence as primary for their own tax advantages...My questions are the following: How can I get a better feel for which parental assets will be used in calculating Jordyn's financial aid? Do parents typically have to sign on college loans as a cosigner, or are there ways for the child to borrow on their own at good interest rates?

Thank You,



When your stepdaughter fills out her financial aid form, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), she will have to include information about the parents with whom she lived the most during the year.  This does not necessarily mean the parents who claim her as a dependent on their tax forms.  If she lived with you 183 days during the year, and at the other parent's house for only 182 days, it would be your information she needs to include on her FAFSA application. 

If she spends an equal amount of time in each home, then the parent who provides greater financial support would be the one to include their information for financial aid purposes.

There are some colleges and universities that require a separate application with a requirement that both biological parents provide their household financial information. 

There are two types of student loans: federal student loans and private loans.  The FAFSA will determine if the student is eligible for any Federal loans, such as the Stafford and Perkins loans.  No co-signor is necessary and the interest rates are affordable.

The Department of Education also sponsors parent PLUS loans.  The funds are loaned to the parents, and they are responsible for repayment.

Private loans are offered by banks and are usually more expensive that the federal options.  The private loans can be in the student’s name, but will most likely require a parent to co-sign.

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