Independent Student Qualifications
financial aid dependency status
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) asks 13 questions to determine if a student must provide parent information.
Undergraduate students under the age of 24 are generally required to include parent financial information unless they meet one of the following criteria.
If you are married before filing the FAFSA, you are considered independent. You must provide financial information for both you and your spouse even if you were not married in the tax year requested on the FAFSA. If you are otherwise dependent, you will be required to submit the Independent form with a copy of your marriage license or common law affidavit. For following years, you will be required to submit the Independent form to verify you are still married to the same person.
Children or Dependents
If you have children or other dependents who live with you and you support more than 50% financially, you can be considered an independent student. Every year you must provide the Independent form with documentation showing your financial support. Acceptable documentation includes tax returns showing the child/dependent as an exemption.
Veteran or Active Duty
If you are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces or are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee who is on active duty for other than state or training purposes, you are considered independent on the FAFSA. Submit the Independent form with active duty documentation.
You are a veteran for financial aid purposes if you have engaged in active duty (including basic training) or you were a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies. You must have been released under a condition other than dishonorable. ROTC students are not considered veterans for financial aid purposes.
Foster Care, Orphan, or Ward of the Court
If, at any time after the age of 13 both your parents were deceased or you were in foster care or a dependent/ward of the court you are considered independent on the FAFSA. Submit the Independent form with your court documents showing your status. If your parents are deceased, submit the Independent form with both death certificates; you are independent even if you are now adopted. We do not need certified copies.
Legal Guardianship or Emancipated Minor
If someone other than your parent or stepparent have legal guardianship of you as determined by a court in your state of legal residence, you are independent on the FAFSA. The definition of legal guardianship does not include your parents, even if they were appointed by a court to be your guardians. You also cannot be a legal guardian of yourself. Submit the Independent form with your court document showing your legal guardianship status.
If a court in your state of legal residence determined you to be an emancipated minor, you are independent on the FAFSA. You cannot become an emancipated minor for financial aid purposes after reaching the age of being an adult in your state. Submit the Independent form with the court document showing your emancipated minor status.
Unaccompanied Youth, Homeless, or At-Risk of Homelessness
If, at any time on or after July 1, 2018 you were identified as being an unaccompanied youth, homeless, or at-risk of being homeless, please contact our office for additional guidance on completing the financial aid process. Our goal is to make this process as simple as possible and are here to help!
Financial Aid administrators have the ability to override the FAFSA dependency decisions on a case-by-case basis due to special circumstances. Examples of special circumstances include abandonment situations or cases of abuse. Contact the Financial Aid office to discuss your situation so we can assist you through this process.
A parent’s inability or unwillingness to provide financial information is not enough to override the information requirement. There are limited options for students in this situation. With appropriate documentation, the student may be eligible to receive a dependent unsubsidized loan only; they would not be eligible for other types of aid. Contact the financial aid office if you find yourself in this situation.