Dependency for financial aid purposes is not the same as dependency for tax purposes. In order to qualify for independent status you must be able to answer “yes” to one or more of the following questions and be able to provide documentation. Not living with parents or not being claimed by a parent on a tax return does not determine dependency status for federal student aid.
- Are you 24 years old or older?
- As of today, are you married?
- At the beginning of the upcoming academic year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate degree?
- Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
- Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
- Do you have children who receive more than half of their support from you?
- Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and receive more than half of their support from you?
- At any time before age 13, were both of your parents deceased, were in foster care, or were a dependent or ward of the court?
- Are you or were you an emancipated minor as determined by the court?
- Are you or were you in legal guardianship as determined by the court?
- In the past year, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
- In the past year, 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?
- In the past year, 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?
Unless a student can answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, the student is declared dependent for financial aid purposes and will be required to submit parent income information on the FAFSA.
Occasionally, unusual circumstances may exist that justify a review of a student’s dependency status. Please contact the Financial Aid Office for more information regarding circumstances justifying a dependency override. The priority deadline is June 1.
Common Dependency Questions
What is the definition of a parent?
A biological, adoptive, or stepparent. Foster parents, legal guardians, and relatives are not treated as a parent for financial aid purposes even if that person has conservatorship over the student. A stepparent is considered a parent if married to a biological or adoptive parent.
I am a dependent student, whose information do I report on my FAFSA if my parents are divorced or separated?
If parents are divorced or separated, the student should use the parent in which they lived the longest during the twelve months prior to the date of completing the FAFSA, regardless of which parent claimed the student on federal income tax. If the student lived with each parent equally, then provide information for the parent for whom provided the most financial support.
What if a student does not want their parents on the FAFSA or a parent refuses to provide information?
A conflict between students and parents does not constitute a valid reason for students not to provide parent information on a FAFSA. Also, a parent’s refusal to provide information does not constitute a change in dependency status.