Have an Answer?
Ask the financial aid director at the college you want to attend. It may differ from school to school depending on your circumstances.
Your first stop should be your school's financial aid office.
Financial Aid for Married College Students
When applying for financial aid, it might seem like marriage can work against you. Instead of counting only your individual income, you must now count your spouses as well.
But the upside of marriage in terms of financial aid is that once you are married, youre an independent couple. This means that the federal government will no longer look at your parents income when you fill out your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This can be very beneficial and lead to greatly increased aid through grants and subsidized Stafford loans.
Scholarships for Married Students
Aside from financial aid advantages, married college students are also qualified for a variety of unique scholarship opportunities. These specific scholarships are typically offered by individual colleges. For example, Ohio State offers the Ed Bacome Scholarship, which gives preference to married students. The David H. Runyon Scholarship is given at Indiana University - East to married mothers. And Virginia Commonwealth sets aside a scholarship for married graduate students.
National scholarships, while rare, are also offered. Scholarships4moms offers scholarships to working mothers nationally, in amounts of up to $10,000. Simply stated, there are many scholarship opportunities for married students. Consult your prospective colleges for more information.
If you were considered a dependent student -- your parents' financial information was required on the financial aid application -- before you tied the knot, that has changed. Married students become financially independent overnight as far as federal student aid is concerned. While the maximum Pell grant is the same for dependent and independent students, independent students may be eligible to borrow substantially more in federal loans. For example, independent students can borrow a maximum of $57,500 for their undergraduate degree, whereas dependent students can borrow only $31,000.
Expected Family Contribution
The expected family contribution is what a student and his family -- your spouse -- is expected to pay out of pocket for educational expenses. This amount is calculated from the information you provide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, using one of three formulas. Married students with no dependents other than a spouse no longer qualify for an automatic zero EFC even if you otherwise would have met the requirements. On the flip side, as a married student, a higher amount of your assets are protected than with a non-married student. Your EFC will be based on your combined income, assets and student status.
Married students whose financial situation changes after filing their FAFSA can request a professional judgment from their school's financial aid office. The financial aid office can make adjustments to your need-based aid, including lowering your EFC and increasing your budget -- the amount your school says you need to attend class. Married students may need to make a request if there is a change in either spouse's income, a divorce occurs or you are paying for child care.
I hope this helps. Good luck!