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Getting Married? How does this impact my FAFSA?

The FAFSA is a “snapshot” of your status on the day you submit it. Therefore, report your marital status as of the day you submit the FAFSA. Dependent students who marry after submitting the FAFSA application have an opportunity to update their marital status on FAFSA to better reflect their current ability to pay.

For dependent students having trouble deciding when to complete the FAFSA, we advise completing your FAFSA before the Priority Date of February 15. Once married, you may change your marital status on the FAFSA and retain your priority status. The instructions below will still apply to changes you make.

Background on Federal Policy
Instructions for Dependent FAFSA Applicants Getting Married
What to Expect After You Update Your FAFSA
Processing Timeframes
Verification of FAFSA Applications
Calculate your EFC

Background on Federal Policy

  • When can students change their marital status?  Student applicants may update their marital status if selected for verification or if marital status results in a change from dependent to independent.
  • Will it be automatically approved? Boise State has the discretion to accept the updated marital status if we deem it necessary to address an inequity or to reflect more accurately the applicant’s ability to pay. Marital status changes will be reviewed by a counselor and decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.**A student may or may not have more desirable financial aid after changing their marital status on the FAFSA. A financial aid counselor will compare the new FAFSA transaction to the prior FAFSA from which aid was initially determined. The counselor will share the impact on the types and amounts of financial aid the student is eligible to receive.

Instructions for Dependent FAFSA Applicants Getting Married:

Name changes: We recommend that you NOT change your name on the FAFSA yet (if you have legally changed your name) unless you have a Social Security Card in your possession that has your new name on it.

What to change on your FAFSA: It is critical that you follow these instructions carefully, as missing a step may result in processing delays.

Update the financial section of your existing FAFSA:
  1. Add both your (the student) and your spouse’s Adjusted Gross Incomes together and complete the Adjusted Gross Income field with the new number.
  2. Do the same for taxes paid and exemptions and complete those fields.
  3. Enter each of your individual earnings into the “Student” and “Spouse” field.
  4. Combine cash/checking/savings
  5. Remember to review and change the “Additional Financial Information” section that asks about education credits, child support paid, earnings from work-Study, and combat Pay.
  6. Combine and add untaxed income Review all items, especially:
    1. Money received, or paid on your behalf (e.g. bills);
    2. Housing, food and other living allowances paid to members of the military, clergy, and others (missionaries, Resident Advisors, and Graduate Assistants with housing benefits). This includes cash received as well as the cash value of these benefits.
Update the demographic section of your FAFSA:
  1. Change the questions that ask if you are married, the date of your marital status change, AND say “Yes” to the question asking if you were married at the time you first completed your FAFSA. You will receive an ERROR pop up window to make certain that you know there are inconsistencies with the marital status date and the date of your FAFSA. Continue with “Yes” as the answer.
  2. Change the questions regarding the number of people in your household and how many household members are in college.

What to Expect after You Update Your FAFSA

When you submit your FAFSA it will be rejected by the federal processor, but that’s okay. We will watch for the new FAFSA transaction and will do a comparison of your financial aid eligibility before and after you made the changes.

The counselor reviewing your FAFSA will consider several items, including, but not limited to:

  • The timing of the change in relation to the academic year.
  • The type and amount of financial aid you are eligible to receive before and after the change.
  • Whether or not the changes address an inequity or reflects more accurately your ability to pay towards your educational expenses.

If the counselor accepts the marital status change, the “rejected” status of the FAFSA will be fixed. You will be notified by the federal processor that a correction has been made.

All recently married FAFSA applicants (going from dependent to independent) will receive a BroncoMail email message with the results of the FAFSA review.

– If your financial aid is obviously better, we will update your financial aid award.
– If it is questionable whether your financial aid is better, we will email you with options.

Processing Timeframes

Please allow at least one month for an email message regarding the change to your FAFSA or for new To Do items related to the marital status change to appear on your Student Center. During peak times in January and August, expect the first review to occur within six weeks.

Review of marital status changes will be postponed for four weeks prior to the first disbursement of aid for a new semester. Previously awarded aid will be allowed to disburse and will be adjusted later if the marital status change is accepted. The rationale for suspending the process is that the student is often selected for verification after the marital status change is processed, which likely will delay the disbursement of aid. A student CAN request that we proceed with the change as long as the consequence of the disbursement timing is understood.

If you have yet to receive a notice regarding your marital status change and it has been more than a month since you submitted the updated FAFSA, please contact the Financial Aid Office.

Verification of the FAFSA

Students who were previously selected for verification will need to be re-verified with spouse’s information:

  • Provide your spouse’s income information for the appropriate tax year, including a Tax Return Transcript** if they filed taxes that year.
  • Submit a Household Size form for the aid year in which changes were made.
  • Be prepared to provide signed, written statements regarding payments made on your behalf by someone else during the FAFSA tax year for student and spouse.
  • Please watch for To Do items on your Student Center, and submit these documents ONLY when you have visible To Do items.

Other students may be selected for verification based on the corrected FAFSA. Please watch for To Do Items on your Student Center. The list above will help you to anticipate what may be requested.

**IRS tax return transcript will likely be needed from you and your spouse. We recommend downloading or requesting by mail the transcript now.  Please submit the transcript only if we post To Do items on your Student Center at my.BoiseState requesting income information.

Calculate Your EFC

An EFC calculator has been provided below in case you wish to compare before and after marriage EFC calculations.

FAFSA4caster

3.24.2016