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What Is a Dislocated Worker on the FAFSA?

When applying for federal financial aid, you may wonder what is a dislocated worker on the FAFSA? Dislocated workers are students or their parents who lost employment through no fault of their own. A student or parent’s status as a dislocated worker may increase their eligibility for federal financial aid. Continue reading to learn more about dislocated workers according to the FAFSA!

What is a dislocated worker?

The student for whom the FAFSA is being completed or their parent(s) can be a dislocated worker. Dislocated workers are people who lost or quit their jobs unexpectedly or due to circumstances outside of their control. These circumstances include being laid off, moving due to military duty, and/or natural disasters.

What situations constitute a dislocated worker?

According to the Department of Education, a student or parent can qualify as a dislocated worker if they:

  • are receiving unemployment benefits due to being laid off or losing a job and are unlikely to return to a previous occupation.
  • have been laid off or received a lay-off notice from a job.
  • are the spouse of an active-duty member of the U.S. armed forces and are unemployed or underemployed, and are experiencing difficulty in obtaining or upgrading employment.
  • were self-employed but are now unemployed due to economic conditions or a natural disaster.
  • are the spouse of an active-duty member of the U.S. armed forces and have experienced a loss of employment because of relocating due to permanent change in duty station.
  • are a displaced homemaker.

A displaced homemaker is defined as a person who previously provided unpaid services to the family, such as a stay-at-home mom or dad. They must be no longer supported by the spouse, unemployed or underemployed, and having trouble finding or advancing employment.

People who quit their job only qualify as a dislocated worker if they are a military spouse who had to leave their job due to relocation. People who left their job voluntarily do not count as dislocated workers, even if they are receiving unemployment benefits.

How to answer the question

The Department of Education uses the FAFSA to determine a student’s eligibility for federal financial aid. Question 83 on the FAFSA asks “is either of your parents a dislocated worker?” The answer to this question may change a student’s expected family contribution (EFC), which could earn them more financial aid. 

There are three answer options: “yes,” “no,” and “don’t know.” If you believe your situation qualifies a dislocated worker, answer “yes.” If it does not, answer “no.” If you’re unsure, answer “don’t know.” 

When an applicant answers question 83 with “yes” or “don’t know,” they will likely be contacted by their school to provide documentation of their situation. If you answer, “don’t know,” you may also contact your school’s financial aid office to clarify your situation.

Be sure to provide information on all forms of income, taxed or untaxed, on the FAFSA. This includes unemployment benefits, relocation assistance, or federal disaster aid.

Finally, save docs and complete the necessary paperwork!

It’s wise to keep any paperwork associated with unemployment, relocation, or being laid off. Your school will ask you to provide this documentation to validate that your parent is a dislocated worker. Be sure to complete the paperwork according to the school’s requirements if your parent is a dislocated worker!

Additional resources for filling out the FAFSA

If you’re in the midst of filling out your FAFSA, we can help out with any other questions you may have. We’ve got a full guide for filling out the FAFSA, as well as specialized resources for individual questions.

Check out our guide to whether you can file the FAFSA as financially independent when you’re under 24, as well as a guide to filling it out with divorced parents. And if you’re not sure which parent’s information to use on the FAFSA, we can help you with that too.

Don’t miss our guide the differences between the FAFSA and the CSS Profile, as well as our explanation of whether there is a FAFSA income limit. Finally, don’t limit yourself to federal aid — check out our scholarship matching tool which custom-matches you to vetted opportunities based on your demographics, interests and more. Good luck!

Frequently asked questions

Will it hurt my financial aid if one of my parents is a dislocated worker on the FAFSA?

It will not – in fact, it will most likely increase your financial aid package. By showing that your parent is out of work through no fault of their own, you demonstrate that your parents are not receiving income, but are actively looking for a new job in order to return to the workforce. If you qualify for this benefit, you should definitely respond accordingly on the FAFSA.

How do I prove that one of my parents is a dislocated worker on the FAFSA?

Typically, you’ll prove your parents’ status as a dislocated worker through unemployment stubs, relocation notice, or a letter indicating their loss of work. Make sure to hold onto these documents, as you will probably have to submit them to your school at some point.