This has happened many times with students I have worked with, and it can be very difficult if the CSS profile is required by the school. If the non-custodial parent cannot be found, the student needs to inform the college(s) as soon as possible. Often times, high school officials who are familiar with the student’s situation can write a letter to verify this. Colleges do expect you to make every effort to find this parent, but if it has been years with no contact, that just needs to be explained as soon as possible to the financial aid officers at the colleges.
Do not assume that the non-custodial form requirements will be waived. If you cannot get the required financial information from the non-custodial parent, contact the financial aid office of each college and ask for special consideration. Be prepared to provide documentation about your situation as well as written letters from a third party (such as a social worker, minster or guidance counselor) with personal knowledge of your circumstances.
One way to avoid having to deal with non-custodial parental information is to apply to colleges that only ask for custodial parent data. These schools would be colleges that only require a student to file the FAFSA form for aid qualification. Schools that ask for the CSS Profile financial aid form in addition to the FAFSA, are generally going to ask for non-custodial parent information.
If you have a guardian or are a foster child, or have been away from home for a period of time and your parents have not filed you on their taxes, then you can be classified as an independent student and only your finances will be counted. I had multiple guardians and no real home, therefore I was considered independent and received full financial aid for college (and some loans).
Complete the FAFSA and apply for as many scholarships as you can. The FAFSA doesn’t care if you have a non-custodial parent or not. It’s a shame your parent won’t help with your college expenses, but if that’s really your situation, be proactive about meeting FAFSA and scholarship deadlines, and save your money now!
Non-custodial parents are required to fill out CSS profile. However, counselors sometimes can work with both parents to fill out the form.
Non-custodial parents are automatically out of the picture when it comes to financial aid. The FAFSA is only interested in the financial information of the parent who you reside with the most. If that parent has remarried, the step-parent’s financial information will also be taken into consideration.
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