- Marriage is relevant because of your expected family contribution, or EFC. Before you marry, the government expects this EFC to come from your parents, which is why you include their financial information on your FAFSA. However, once you get married, you are considered an independent student, no longer a dependent of your parents. Therefore your spouse’s income is now relevant to your EFC. The level of that income will determine the amount of financial aid you can receive.
Level of Aid
- In most cases of a young married couple at college, your spouse is probably earning less than your parents. Therefore, when your EFC is calculated, you may even find that your financial aid level increases after you're married. If you are unsure about how your financial situation will be impacted, talk to the financial aid office at your school -- they may be able to make clearer estimates about your particular situation.
Date of Marriage
- Your status as either a dependent of your parents or as an independent student is determined on the day you submit your FAFSA form for that year. If you get married halfway through the school year, you are still considered a dependent for the remainder of the year and your financial aid picture will not change. You have to apply for aid again each year you are at college, so the following year your newly married status will become relevant and may change your level of aid.
- Your tax filing status is not generally relevant to your financial aid situation. Even if you file a separate tax return from your spouse, you must still report your combined incomes on your FAFSA. The only circumstances under which you can exclude your spouse’s income from your financial aid paperwork is if you are legally separated or divorced, and therefore your spouse is no longer part of your household.