How is eligibility determined when the parents are not married to each other?
It is Emerson College policy to expect information and financial support from both biological/adoptive parents of students applying for financial assistance:
- The custodial parent is required to provide income, asset, and other information on the FAFSA.
- The non-custodial parent is expected to provide information on the Noncustodial Parent Statement.
- If either parent has remarried, the step-parent's information must be also included.
What criteria is used to determine, which parent is Custodial vs. Noncustodial?
The custodial parent, as defined by federal financial aid regulation and Emerson College policy, is the biological/adoptive parent with whom the student lived more during the 12 months prior to applying for aid. 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 financial support during the past 12 months or during the most recent year 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.
Noncustodial Parent Statement
What is the Noncustodial Parent Statement?
The Noncustodial Parent Statement is a form which noncustodial parents of financial assistance applicants report their income, assets, and other information. If a student's biological/adoptive parents are divorced, separated, or were never married to each other, the Noncustodial Parent Statement is required for consideration of Emerson College institutional financial assistance. Emerson College will not release, electronically or otherwise, the income and asset information of divorced/separated/never married parents to the other parent.
What if my Noncustodial Parent is reluctant to provide the necessary information?
Sometimes noncustodial parents are reluctant to provide information initially. We are happy to speak directly with them and often find that we can resolve their concerns. Providing information does not necessarily mean that a noncustodial contribution will be expected. But, his/her refusal to provide information or financial support will not, on its own, constitute sufficient justification for a waiver of this requirement and could result in decreasing the student's eligibility for financial assistance.
What if it is impossible to provide a completed Noncustodial Parent Statement?
We recognize that extenuating circumstances in individual cases may make it impossible to obtain information and/or support. If the noncustodial parent's whereabouts are unknown, if there is an established history of non-support, or if there are certain other extenuating circumstances, we may exempt the student from the Noncustodial Parent Statement requirement.
Waiving a Noncustodial Parent Statement
If you would like to request a waiver of the Noncustodial Parent Statement, you must complete the following steps prior to your Financial Aid deadline:
- Complete the Noncustodial Parent Statement Waiver Request form
- Write a letter explaining why it is impossible to provide the Noncustodial Parent Statement. Include a description of the history and current status of your relationship with your noncustodial parent, the history and frequency of any contact you have had with that parent, and a history of any financial support provided for you by that parent.
- Attach any supporting documentation, such as legal/court documents or a letter from any of the following sources (on official letterhead).
- A letter from an attorney, member of the clergy, therapist, teacher, counselor, or other professional non-family member who is familiar with your circumstances and in a position to confirm your explanation of the situation. Letters from friends of family or neighbors are not acceptable.
- Send the above documents to:
- Emerson College, Office of Financial Aid, 120 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116. Be sure to put the student's name and Emerson ID number on all pages.
Please follow these instructions diligently; simply writing on the Noncustodial Parent Statement that the whereabouts of the noncustodial parent are unknown is not sufficient to be considered as a waiver request. Your complete request must be received prior to our published deadlines to receive priority consideration for financial assistance.
Emerson College reserves the right to request any additional information needed to make a final decision on a waiver request. Decisions on waiver requests are made at the sole discretion of the Office of Financial Aid.
Students will be notified of the outcome of waiver decisions in writing.
What if the separation/divorce is very recent and occurred after the aid application is filed?
Additional documentation will be required if the parents become separated or divorced after filing financial assistance applications. Documents required may include:
- Copy of the Separation Agreement (if available)
- Copy of Final Divorce Decree
- Noncustodial Parent's Statement
- Noncustodial Parent Federal Tax Returns (if applicable)
- Income verification (including child support and/or alimony)
- Documentation to determine household size/number in college
- Documentation to determine parent's assets
- Other additional documentation
If neither a Separation Agreement nor Divorce Decree is available, a letter explaining the relevant details may be sufficient. For federal aid purposes, there need not be a "legal separation"; the student's parents may be considered separated when one of the parents has left the household for an indefinite period of time and no longer makes a substantial contribution to the finances of that household. However, if parents still live in the same household, they are not considered separated and information for both parents must be reported. Also, when one parent resides outside the household for employment purposes only, the parents would not be considered separated.
Do I have to submit the Noncustodial Parent information each year I apply?
After the first year you apply, Emerson will not require you to resubmit the non-custodial information each subsequent year. We will use the same calculated noncustodial contribution each year unless we are informed of a change to the noncustodial financial situation. Please note that as a financial aid applicant, you are required to inform Emerson College of any known changes to the noncustodial parent's income, assets, or family size. Failure to report changes could result in reduction or cancellation of your future aid offers.
For questions about any aspect of the financial assistance application process, contact the Office of Financial Aid at 617-824-8655 or at finaid [at] emerson.edu. Please include your name and Emerson College ID number in any e-mail communication.
When a divorced or separated parent contacts us on a student's behalf, we ask for clarification regarding their status as either the custodial or noncustodial parent, so we can ensure the confidentiality of each party's personal information.