Most people need some financial aid to attend or stay in college. If you're not yet wed, both of you can go through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid process as normal. However, you will have to be honest about your pending vows and it could have some impact on the amount of your aid.
Question 16 on FAFSA, asks, "What is your marital status?" It sounds like a simple question, and it is. If you've never been married, you're single. If you're currently married, you're married. It also asks if you're legally separated, divorced or widowed. In short, the question doesn't want to know what you have been, or what you will be. It wants to know what your marital status is right now.
The FAFSA doesn't care what your marital status is as of the end of the year, or the end of the week for that matter. That's something the Internal Revenue Service deals with, but the FAFSA only wants to know your marital status when you submit your application. If you do that the day before the wedding, you must say you're single.
The FAFSA uses the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act to determine your marital status. As far as the FAFSA is concerned, marriage refers to the legal union between one man and one woman. Same-sex unions don't qualify as marriages for federal student aid. Neither does living together, unless your state considers it a common law marriage.
The FAFSA bases your student financial aid on need. If you're single and under 24, the FAFSA combines your income and your parents to set your financial aid. Once you get married, your aid is based on what the two of you make. If it figures you'll get a better aid package filing as a single, it's in your best interest to turn in the FAFSA before the wedding bells.
- Truman State University: Change in Marital Status
- FinAid: Financial Aid Applications
- FinAid: Common Errors on Financial Aid Applications
- MoneyGirl: Getting Married: How Does It Affect Your Finances?
- National Center for Education Statistics: Tuition Costs of Colleges and Universities
- Bloomberg: Cost of College Degree in U.S. Soars 12 Fold
- National Center for Education Statistics: Financial Aid
Mike Parker is a full-time writer, publisher and independent businessman. His background includes a career as an investments broker with such NYSE member firms as Edward Jones & Company, AG Edwards & Sons and Dean Witter. He helped launch DiscoverCard as one of the company's first merchant sales reps.