Answering the household question on the FAFSA

A hypothetical FAFSA admission ticket

It is a simple question, really.

How many people are in your household?

However, like many other simple questions we get in our lifetime, the answer can get complicated.

Every student completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will need to answer that question - for their parent's household if they are required to provide parental information or for their own household if they are considered independent students. Most (but not all) high school students are considered dependent students and therefore must answer the question for their parent's household.

To determine your parent's household size, include:

  • Yourself
  • Your parent(s)

In addition, you may include other people in your parents' household size. However, your parents must expect to provide more than half of the support (money, housing, food, clothes, medical care, or tuition) for those people in the year for which you are applying for financial aid (July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 if you are applying for the 2020-21 academic year). This could include:

  • Your parents' other children - even if they don't live at home
  • Other people who aren't your parent's children but who live with your parents

For example, you may have a sibling away at college or living on his or her own. Even though that brother or sister is not living at home, you would include them if your parents will provide at least half of their support or if the sibling would answer no to all of the dependency questions if completing the FAFSA. If it is a relative (such as a grandparent or aunt or uncle) or even a family friend, you will include them only if they will be living in the household and your parents will be providing more than half of their support.

Just remember to follow these guidelines to make that complicated question an easy one to answer.