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Dependent vs. Independent Students Status

 

Dependent Students

Unless you meet any one of the criteria stated under Independent Student Status or there are some exceptional circumstances, you will be considered a dependent student for financial aid purposes.

 

Independent Students

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.

 

  • 2017-2018 Independent Student Status
  • 2016-2017 Independent Student Status

Dependency status for federal financial aid is determined by the questions answered in Step Three of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students are considered independent for financial aid purposes, if they can answer yes to one or more of the following questions:

For 2017-2018, those questions are:

  • Were you born before Jan. 1, 1994?
  • As of today, are you married? (Also answer “Yes” if you are separated but not divorced.)
  • At the beginning of the 2017–18 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program (such as an M.A., M.B.A., M.D., J.D., Ph.D., Ed.D., graduate certificate, etc.)?
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces for purposes other than training? (If you are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee, are you on active duty for other than state or training purposes?)
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. armed forces?*
  • Do you now have—or will you have—children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018?
  • 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, 2018?
  • 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?
  • Has it been determined by a court in your state of legal residence that you are an emancipated minor or that someone other than your parent or stepparent has legal guardianship of you? (You also should answer "Yes" if you are now an adult but were in legal guardianship or were an emancipated minor immediately before you reached the age of being an adult in your state. Answer "No" if the court papers say "custody" rather than "guardianship.")
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2016, were you determined to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, as determined by (a) your high school or district homeless liaison, (b) the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or (c) the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program?**

* Answer No (you are not a veteran) if you (1) have never engaged in active duty (including basic training) in the U.S. armed forces, (2) are currently a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) student or a cadet or midshipman at a service academy, (3) are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee activated only for state or training purposes, or (4) were engaged in active duty in the U.S. armed forces but released under dishonorable conditions. Also answer No if you are currently serving in the U.S. armed forces and will continue to serve through June 30, 2017.

**If you do not have a determination that you are homeless, but you believe you are an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, answer “No” to the FAFSA questions concerning being homeless.  You may need to contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance to explain your situation to a financial aid administrator.

Dependency status for federal financial aid is determined by the questions answered in Step Three of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students are considered independent for financial aid purposes, if they can answer yes to one or more of the following questions:

  • Were you born before Jan. 1, 1993?
  • As of today, are you married? (Also answer “Yes” if you are separated but not divorced.)
  • At the beginning of the 2016–17 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program (such as an M.A., M.B.A., M.D., J.D., Ph.D., Ed.D., graduate certificate, etc.)?
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces for purposes other than training? (If you are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee, are you on active duty for other than state or training purposes?)
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. armed forces?*
  • Do you now have—or will you have—children who will 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?
  • Has it been determined by a court in your state of legal residence that you are an emancipated minor or that someone other than your parent or stepparent has legal guardianship of you? (You also should answer "Yes" if you are now an adult but were in legal guardianship immediately before you reached the age of being an adult in your state. Answer "No" if the court papers say "custody" rather than "guardianship.")
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2015, were you determined to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, as determined by (a) your high school or district homeless liaison, (b) the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or (c) the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program?**

* Answer No (you are not a veteran) if you (1) have never engaged in active duty (including basic training) in the U.S. armed forces, (2) are currently a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) student or a cadet or midshipman at a service academy, (3) are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee activated only for state or training purposes, or (4) were engaged in active duty in the U.S. armed forces but released under dishonorable conditions. Also answer No if you are currently serving in the U.S. armed forces and will continue to serve through June 30, 2017.

**If you do not have a determination that you are homeless, but you believe you are an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, answer “No” to the FAFSA questions concerning being homeless.  You may need to contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance to explain your situation to a financial aid administrator.



There are unusual circumstances in which a student cannot answer “yes” to any of the above questions, but may be considered for a Dependency Override. For additional information on the Dependency Override process, please visit our Dependency Override page. 

 

 
   
   
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