When you have not been able to pay child support, going back to college can be a step in the direction of higher-paying jobs and increased ability to support your child. However, college is expensive, and you probably cannot afford to pay that either. Whether or not you qualify for grants depends on where the grants are coming from.
The federal government does not exclude people who owe back child support from receiving grants for education. There are very few debts which do affect your federal financial aid eligibility. The only ones that would disqualify you are if you are currently in default on a student loan from the federal government or if you have not yet repaid a federal student grant that was given to you in error.
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Some states provide grants to students who lived in the state before going to college, who currently live in the state to attend college, or both. State student aid organizations set their own rules for financial aid qualification. According to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the Fastweb and FinAid websites, some states require that you not be more than 30 days late on child support payments to receive financial aid. Check with your state agency for specific rules.
Most colleges follow the eligibility guidelines established by the federal government. Therefore, owing back child support should not affect your chances of receiving grants from your college. Private organizations who offer grants set their own eligibility guidelines, so contact the organization to find out whether you qualify for the grant. Some organizations might even offer extra grants to people who were behind on child support and are trying to get back on track while going to school.
Report Child Support
If you made child support payments during the previous year, you can report these on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Reporting the payments will help reduce the amount that the federal government calculates you can afford to pay for college expenses. If you provided at least half of a child's support, you can claim the child in your household size on the FAFSA. If you provided less than half of the child's support last year, report the amount of child support you paid on the FAFSA.