Obligations of Stepparents
My parents are divorced, and the parent I'm living with has remarried. Does my stepparent have to report his or her income and assets on the FAFSA?
Yes, provided that the parent you're living with is the one filling out the FAFSA (your custodial parent). If your stepparent is married to them at the time you fill out the FAFSA, they must report their income and assets even if they weren't married to them in the previous year.
My custodial parent remarried and signed a prenuptial agreement that absolves the stepparent from financial responsibility for my education. Why does my stepparent have to provide financial information on the FAFSA?
Prenuptial agreements are ignored by the federal need analysis process. After all, two individuals (parent and stepparent) cannot make an agreement between them that is binding on a third party (the federal government). The federal government considers the stepparent a source of support regardless of any prenuptial agreements to the contrary. If a stepparent marries the parent, he or she is considered responsible for supporting the parent and children even if he or she is unwilling to do so.
College Support and Income Taxes
Can a non-custodial parent who is paying college tuition directly to a college take advantage of education tax benefits such as the Hope Scholarship?
The non-custodial parent can only take advantage of the education tax benefits when he or she claims the child as a dependent. If the non-custodial parent does not claim the child as a dependent on his or her income tax returns, but the custodial parent does, the custodial parent can claim an education tax credit based on the tuition paid by the non-custodial parent.