Having a child who goes to college can be stressful, but it can feel overwhelming having to help multiple children at the same time. Here are the answers to some common questions about filling out the FAFSA form when you have more than one child in college:
How many FSA IDs do my children and I need?
An FSA ID is a username and password combination that serves as a legal electronic signature throughout the financial support process. You AND each of your children need your own FSA ID.
Note: Your FSA ID is linked to your social security number and corresponds to your legal signature. Therefore, each person can only have one FSA ID. If you are a parent, use the same FSA ID to sign each of your child’s FAFSA forms.
How many FAFSA® forms do we have to fill out?
Each of your children must complete a FAFSA form. Your children are required to provide your (parenting) information on their FAFSA 2021-22 Forms unless they go to school, were born before January 1, 1998, or can answer “yes” to any of these addiction status questions.
Example: You have three children who are going to college or are in college. You will need four FSA IDs – one for you as the parent (only one parent needs an FSA ID) and one for each child. You will need to fill out three FAFSA forms, one for each child.
Can I transfer my information from one child’s FAFSA® form to another so I don’t have to re-enter it?
Yes! Once your first child’s FAFSA form is completed, you will be taken to a confirmation page. At the bottom of the confirmation page, you’ll see an option that says, “Does your brother or sister need to fill out a FAFSA?” Make sure your pop-up blocker is turned off and select the arrow on the right.
Note: This transfer option is available on fafsa.gov, but currently NOT in the myStudentAid app.
TIP: If you want the process to go as smoothly as possible, your second child should have their FSA ID on hand so you are ready for the next step.
Once you’ve selected the arrow, a new window will open for your other child to start their FAFSA form. We encourage your child to start the FAFSA form by entering their FSA ID (not your FSA ID) using the option on the left (I am the student) in the image below. However, when you start your child’s FAFSA form, select the option to the right (I am a Parent, Preparer, or Student from a Free Associated State) and fill in your child’s information.
Note: Regardless of who starts the application from this screen, the FAFSA form remains the student’s application. If it says “you” on the FAFSA form, it means the student. If the FAFSA form asks for overriding information, it will be indicated. When in doubt, read the ribbon in the top left of the screen. You will see whether you are prompted for student or parent information.
After selecting the FAFSA form that you would like to fill out and create a storage key, you will be taken to the introductory page stating that the parent’s details have been copied to your second child’s FAFSA form.
Once you have reached the parent information page, your information will be pre-filled. Review this information, sign and submit the FAFSA form. Finished!
I have educational savings accounts (529 plan etc) for my children. How do I report this on the FAFSA® form?
You report the value of any educational savings accounts owned by you, your child, or other dependent children in your household as a parenting investment. (See “What is the net worth of your parents’ investments?” For more information.) If you have educational savings accounts for more than one child, you must report this combined current value of these accounts, even if some of these children are new to college or not completing a FAFSA form
Example: Child 1 and 2 fill out the FAFSA form. Child 3 is in 8th grade. They each have 529 college savings accounts in their names.
- Child 1 Balance: $ 20,000
- Child 2 balance: $ 13,000
- Child 3 Balance: $ 8,000
You would add $ 41,000 to all of the other parenting investments that you have to report and enter when asked, “What is the net worth of your parent’s investments?” on every FAFSA form of your children.
How does having more than one child affect the amount of financial assistance my children qualify for?
Having more than one child enrolled in college at the same time can affect your children’s eligibility for needs-based government grant.
TIP: We often hear from families who fail to fill out the FAFSA form again because they believe they will not qualify for scholarships, especially if they did not qualify in the previous year. That is a big mistakeespecially if you have additional children entering college. Read on to find out why.
Schools use the following formula to determine a student’s eligibility for needs-based financial assistance:
Participation Costs (COA) – Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = financial need
Let’s break down this formula:
- Participation costs: This varies from school to school. So if two children attend different schools with different costs, their financial needs may be different even if their EFC is the same.
- Expected family contribution: The information you provide on the FAFSA form will be used to calculate your child’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is a combination of the expected contribution from parents and students to the student’s cost of attending college. The EFC is not necessarily the amount your family will have to pay for college, nor is it the amount of government student aid you will receive. This number is used by your child’s school to calculate how much financial support they can get. Since we recognize that as a parent, your annual solvency per child decreases as more children are enrolled in college, we divide the expected percentage of parental dues by the number of children you are likely to have in college.
Example: Let’s say that all of your dependent children have identical financial information, and that assuming a child is in college, the calculated EFC is $ 10,000. So, each child’s EFC would change, depending on the number of family members attending college full-time.
- Financial hardship: Please note that schools differ (sometimes greatly) in their ability to meet the financial needs of each student. To compare average school costs, visit the CollegeScorecard.