The Free Application for Federal Student Aid requires dependent students to provide parental information. Dependent students are generally under 24 years of age as of Dec. 31 of the award year and are unmarried, do not support a child and do not meet other criteria for a dependency override. However, if your parents are both deceased, you may be considered an independent student and are not required to provide parental information for a deceased parent.
Both Parents Are Deceased
If both of your parents are deceased and you do not have an adoptive parent, neither parents' information should be provided on the FAFSA. Instead, answer the FAFSA that your parents are deceased and file as an orphan. For 2013-2014, this is question 52 on the FAFSA where you will answer whether there was a time since you turned 13 years old that you did not have a living parent. You will be considered an independent student and a determination for financial aid will be made using solely your own information.
Who Counts as a Parent?
Your deceased parent does not have to be biological to be treated as a parent on the FAFSA. For example, a deceased adoptive parent or a grandparent who has adopted you is considered the same as a biological parent where the FAFSA is concerned. However, someone who has parented you but has not legally adopted you, such as a foster parent or legal guardian, is not treated as a parent on the FAFSA.
One Parent is Deceased
If one of you parents is deceased, you should only answer questions on the FAFSA about your surviving parent. Do not enter information about the deceased parent. If your surviving parent remarries on or before the date you file your FAFSA, your stepparent's financial information will be used to determine your financial aid.
Parents Died After Filing FAFSA
If your parents dies after you file the FAFSA, your financial situation and reporting requirements may also change. Contact your financial aid office and notify them of this change. Ask for a re-evaluation of your financial aid package. Fill out the required paperwork and provide your financial aid office with the documentation they request in a timely fashion.
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.