Filling out the FAFSA with a deceased parent isn't much different than filling out the FAFSA with both parents living. If you still have one living parent, you'll need to complete the FAFSA parent information with their details. However, if both of your parents are deceased, or if your single custodial parent is deceased, you may be required to file as an independent student. Financial aid for students with a deceased parent may exceed that of students with two living parents because their expected family contribution is much lower. If that's the case, filling out FAFSA with a deceased parent may qualify you for need-based financial aid like the Pell Grant.
Filling Out FAFSA With a Deceased Parent
Filling out FAFSA with a deceased parent is very similar to filling out FAFSA with two parents. However, there are a few small differences. Although you'll omit the FAFSA parent information for your deceased parent, you may be required to furnish a death certificate to prove that they won't be contributing to your financial aid. This may be an emotionally difficult process to handle, so ask for help if you need it. Friends, relatives and school staff will be able to assist you in your time of need.
FAFSA Parent Information to Include
When filling out the FAFSA, don't include the income of your deceased parent. Submit the information for your living parent only. This information will include their income and assets. If your parents passed away after you submitted the FAFSA, contact your school’s financial aid office. They may have a protocol in place to help you. You may be able to make an appeal that will change your financial aid status because of extenuating circumstances.
Financial Aid for Students With a Deceased Parent
Financial aid for students with a deceased parent may end up providing more money than if both parents were able to pay. This is because your expected family contribution is much lower. You might qualify now for need-based scholarships and grants. After you calculate your new financial aid numbers, talk to your financial aid advisor about looking for new scholarships and other forms of aid.
Becoming an Independent Student
If your custodial parent is the one who passed away, or if both of your parents are deceased, you may become categorized as an independent student. If you’re an independent student, instead of filling out the FAFSA with your parents’ information, you'll provide your own information on the forms. The less you make on your own, the more the government will help you pay for school. However, don't forget to list your inherited assets if you have any.
Rebecca Renner is a teacher and college professor from Florida. She loves teaching about literature, and she writes about books for Book Riot, Real Simple, Electric Literature and more.