When you apply for federal student aid, your answers to certain questions will determine whether you’re considered dependent on your parents or independent. If you’re considered dependent, your parents’ income and assets as well as your own must be reported on the FAFSA. If you’re independent, you’ll report only your own income and assets (and those of your spouse, if you’re married). Not living with your parents does not necessarily classify you as independent.
Student are classified as dependent or independent because federal student aid programs are based on the principle that students (and their parents or spouse, if applicable) are considered the primary source of support for postsecondary education.
For the 2013-14 academic year, you’re an independent student if at least one of the following applies to you:
- You were born before January 1, 1990
- You’re married
- You are or will be enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program (beyond a bachelor’s degree) during the 2013-14 school year
- You have children who receive more than half their support from you
- You have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half their support from you and will continue to receive more than half their support from you through June 30, 2013
- You’re an orphan or ward of the court (or were a ward of the court until age 18)
- You’re a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces (“veteran” includes students who attended a U.S. service academy and who were released under a condition other than dishonorable)
- When you were 13 or older, both your parents were/are deceased, you were/are in foster care, or were/are a dependent/ward of the court
- As of today, you are an emancipated minor as determined by a court
- As of today, you are in legal guardianship as determined by a court
- At anytime on or after July 1, 2008, you were classified as an unaccompanied youth who was homeless
In extreme and unusual cases, a Financial Aid Administrator can determine that a student who doesn’t meet the above criteria should still be treated as an independent student. The Financial Aid Administrator can change your dependency status if he or she thinks circumstances warrant it based on the documentation you provide. The Administrator won’t automatically do this. The decision is based on the aid administrator’s judgment and is final. Contact the Financial Aid Office if you feel you qualify to apply for a dependency override.