Dependent Vs. Independent Student Status
Am I a Dependent or Independent Student?
Per federal regulations, you are an independent student if any one of the following scenarios apply to you:
1. You are 24 years of age or older by December 31 of the award year.
2. You are married.
3. You are enrolled in a Master’s or Doctoral program.
4. You have children who receive more than half of their support from you.
5. You have legal dependents.
6. You are an orphan.
7. You are (or were) a ward of the court, in foster care, or placed under legal guardianship.
8. You were an emancipated minor.
9. You are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, or active duty.
10. You are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
If any scenario above applies to you, you may be required to submit supporting documentation. If none of the above scenarios apply to you, you are a dependent student for FAFSA purposes and must include parental income information on FAFSA. For clarification of any of the above terms, please contact the financial aid office.
You should be aware that you are not automatically independent for financial aid purposes simply because your parents stop claiming you as a tax exemption or refuse to give you support for your college education. In cases where you do not qualify as an independent student but you receive no parental support, counselors in the financial aid office can provide you with information about alternative financing and employment opportunities to help you pay for your college expenses.
Please contact your financial aid counselor if you feel that you have exceptional circumstances which warrant review of your dependency status. If you do not qualify as an independent student but your parents are unwilling to complete your FAFSA, contact your financial aid counselor.
“My Parents Don’t Support Me – Why Do I Have to Use Their Information on FAFSA?”
Students 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.
You are not independent for financial aid purposes simply because you live on your own or your parents stop claiming you as a tax exemption or refuse to give you support for your college education. Unwillingness, inability, or reluctance of parents to help pay for your educational costs does not make you independent.