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Policy - Parental Contribution for Dependent Students
The overall premise in financial aid is that the responsibility in meeting the cost of attendance rests with the student’s family. We encourage the student and parents to apply for financial assistance which can be used to supplement the family’s contribution. The application process requires the submission of financial and household information from the family to determine their ability to pay as measured by the federal and institutional needs analysis methodologies.
Dependent student’s biological/adoptive parents’ and stepparent’s (if either parent has remarried) income and asset information are considered when determining the parental contribution towards educational expenses. In cases where the student’s biological/adoptive parents are divorced, separated or not sharing a household, George Washington University expects information from both parents to determine the parental contribution towards educational expenses. The custodial parent is required to provide income, asset, and other information on both the FAFSA and CSS PROFILE*. The noncustodial parent is expected to provide information on the Noncustodial PROFILE (NCP)*.
Parents who live in the same household, regardless of legal status, or who reside separately for employment purposes only, are not considered separated, and information for both parents must be reported on the FAFSA and CSS PROFILE*.
See the How to Apply section for more details on forms and associated deadlines.
* The CSS PROFILE and Noncustodial PROFILE applications are required for all incoming undergraduate students and continuing students when they initiate their first financial assistance application. Noncustodial contributions for continuing students will be carried forward assuming the same level of support from year to year.
When a divorced or separated parent contacts us on a student’s behalf, we ask for clarification regarding his or her status as either the custodial or noncustodial parent, so we can ensure the confidentiality of each party’s personal information.
The custodial parent is defined as the biological/adoptive parent that the student lived with more than 50% of the time during the 12 months prior to applying for aid, per federal regulations.
If the student lived with neither parent during the prior 12 months, or lived equally with each parent, the custodial parent is the parent from whom the student received more than 50% of financial support during the past 12 months, or during the most recent year that the student received support from a parent.
In determining custodial parent status, it does not matter which parent claims the student as an exemption for tax purposes.
Once the custodial parent is established, we expect that same parent to be used in all subsequent years. In order to switch to using the other parent, the student must submit a letter to explain the circumstances that led to the change.
Students whose parents are divorced, separated or not sharing a household will receive an email from CSS after completing the PROFILE instructing them to have the noncustodial complete the Noncustodial PROFILE (NCP) which is an online application similar to the PROFILE. On the NCP, noncustodial parents of first-time aid applicants report their income, asset, and other information.
When the noncustodial parent accesses the application, he or she is instructed to immediately change the password, thus securing the privacy of his or her information. GW will not disclose, electronically or otherwise, the income and asset information of a divorced/separated parent to the other parent.
If the student misplaces or does not receive the NCP email, he or she can call PROFILE Customer Support at 844-202-0524. At the student’s request, CSS will send the NCP email to the student or directly to the noncustodial parent. For questions about the Noncustodial PROFILE, call CSS at 844-202-0524.
Noncustodial Parent Information Waiver
We understand that there are extenuating circumstances for some families which may make it impossible to obtain information and/or support from the noncustodial parent. If the noncustodial parent’s whereabouts are unknown, or there are certain other extenuating circumstances, we may exempt the student from the Noncustodial PROFILE requirement. To request a waiver of this requirement you must complete and submit, with the necessary documentation, a Noncustodial Profile Waiver Request. Note that requests with insufficient supporting documentation will be denied.
Separation/Divorce After Applying for Aid
If the student’s parents separate or divorce while the student is in attendance at GW, we will expect a contribution from both parents. As such, additional documentation may be required to include:
- Copy of the Separation Agreement (if available)
- Copy of the Final Divorce Decree
- Noncustodial PROFILE Pre-Application Worksheet
- Income verification for both parents (including child support and/or alimony)
- Documentation to determine household size/number in college
- Documentation to determine each parent’s assets
- Other additional documentation
If neither a Separation Agreement nor a Divorce Decree is available, a letter explaining the relevant details may be sufficient. There need not be a “legal separation” for federal aid purposes: the student’s parents may be considered separated when one of them has left the household for an indefinite period of time and no longer makes a substantial contribution to the household finances.
Foster parents, legal guardians, and relatives
A foster parent or a legal guardian is not treated as a parent for financial assistance application purposes. If a student is living with a grandparent or other relative, their data should not be reported as parental data unless they have adopted the student.