For students that only have one custodial parent, financial aid applications can be quite scary, let alone complicated. I am hoping that with this article, we can lessen the burden that first-generation and low-income students face during the college application and financial aid process.
If you are a student that has only one custodial parent, you should know that with most private colleges, there is one piece of extra financial aid paperwork that you will have to fill out–the non-custodial parent waiver application. Contrary to popular belief, filling out this form does not actually guarantee acceptance. Colleges need an ample amount of proof in order to make sure that the non-custodial parent’s income should not be included in your financial aid decision. For many, this is extremely difficult, but I am hoping that this article may help. As a person who has had her non-custodial parent waiver accepted at a number of private institutions, I have picked up a few tips and tricks along the way.
Many colleges across the nation accept the same non-custodial parent waiver–the College Board waiver–which can be found here: https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org/pdf/css-profile-waiver-request-non-custodial-parent.pdf
Although this waiver may seem an easy process at first glance, I assure you that it is not. Unfortunately, this is not a form that you can complete at the last minute. This process will take time, so it is better that you start early. It is also not a relatively easy form to fill out, so the earlier that you begin filling out the form, the more breaks that you can take throughout the process (because trust me, you will need them).
It is also important to note that not every college requires this specific form. Although I am detailing the completion of this form within this article, please note that schools that require other versions of this form may require other information for you. Please consult the school’s financial aid office for further details.
What they are looking for: Financial aid departments want to make the most money possible out of a student. Unfortunately, only having one custodial parent does not disqualify the other parent from having to be a part of your financial aid contribution. The financial aid department wants some type of proof that you are no longer in contact with your non-custodial parent and that they have never been financially responsible for you, at least in the last several years. Your non-custodial parent waiver refusing to pay for a portion of your college application is not enough. You have to prove that your non-custodial parent is no longer a part of your life.
Portions of the form:
- Tax Claims
- Here, the department just wants to know when the last time that your non-custodial parent claimed you on their taxes.
- Child Support
- In this section, they are looking for information on child support that your family has received from your non-custodial parent and the last time that you have received it.
- This is a very important section. Be specific about the nature of the contact that you have had with your non-custodial parent and when this contact had occurred.
- Non-custodial parent relationships
- Has your non-custodial parent remarried?
- Non-custodial parent children
- Does your non-custodial parent have children outside of your immediate household?
- Who owns the property where you live?
- In this section, you will be explaining why your non-custodial parent should not be included in your financial aid decision. Whether it be that you are out of contact with this parent or that they have never financially supported you, put all information that you have here. The more details that you can include, the better chance that you have in getting your form approved!
- Any available legal documents
- This typically does not include the actual custodial paperwork. The financial aid department knows that you only have one custodial parent. Unfortunately, what they need to know is that you do not have any contact with the non-custodial parent. The legal documents that they are looking for can include but are not limited to restraining orders. In some cases, when the custodial documents include information that back your point that the non-custodial parent is no longer a part of your life, you can include them as well.
- Third-party documentation
- This documentation should be a letter written from someone outside of your family. For reference, I asked a very close teacher that I had talked to about my situation to write my letter for me. In the letter, there needs to be information about your family life and how your non-custodial parent is not a part of your life. It is important to know that if you submit documentation from family members or attorneys, the college may not accept your waiver or ask for further documentation. I know that it is difficult to ask your close friends and/or mentors to do something this personal, but I also promise that the people that are close to you should be willing to do things such as this. You can also receive letters from people such as a therapist, school counselor, etc.
I know that this form can be a serious barrier in completing your financial aid applications. Please do not hesitate to contact me if there are any questions that you think I can answer or if there is any help that I can give you. It is very important to me to use my experience to “pay it forward” to future students, so again, please do not hesitate to reach out. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org , and I would be happy to help you with anything that I possibly could. I am wishing all of you luck in filling out your forms this coming financial aid season! Have a great day.