Are you independent or dependent?
Your student dependency status is determined by the U.S. Department of Education based on your responses to the following FAFSA questions:
- Were you born before January 1, 1993?
- As of today are you married? (Answer "Yes" if you are separated, but not divorced.)
- At the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, will you be working on a master's or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, or graduate certificate, etc.)?
- Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training? If so, also see Veterans
- Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces? If so, also see Veterans
- Do you have children who receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017?
- Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2017?
- At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court? If so, also see Foster Youth
- As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?
- Does someone other than your parent or stepparent have legal guardianship of you, as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2015, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2015, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2015, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
If you answered "YES" to ANY of these questions on the FAFSA, you will be considered "Independent" for financial aid analysis. If you answered "NO" to ALL of these questions, then you must provide parental information, and you are considered "Dependent" for financial aid analysis.
If you have reason to appeal your dependency status, you must clearly demonstrate an adverse family situation in order for us to consider you independent for financial aid purposes. This is called a dependency override, and is considered on a case-by-case basis.
According to U.S. Department of Education guidelines, the following conditions do not qualify as unusual circumstances:
- Parents refusing to contribute to the student's education
- Parents unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or documents for verification
- Parents not claiming the student as a dependent for income tax purposes
- Student demonstrating total self–sufficiency
Also see the Dependency Status Appeal form, available on the Forms and Applications page, to determine if you have circumstances that may meet dependency status appeal criteria.