When filing the FAFSA:
→If you're a dependent student, you will report your and your parents' information.
- as a general rule, undergraduate students under 24yrs are dependent
→If you're an independent student you will report your own information (and, if you're married, your spouse's). The following student populations are independent-
- Graduate students enrolled in a Masters Degree program
- Married students
- Students that are 24yrs of age or older
- Wards of the State
- Veterans or those on active duty
The federal student aid programs are based on the concept that it is primarily your and your family's responsibility to pay for your education. And because a dependent student is assumed to have the support of parents, the parents' information has to be assessed along with the student's, in order to get a full picture of the family's financial strength. If you're a dependent student, it doesn't mean your parents are required to pay anything toward your education; this is just a way of looking at everyone in a consistent manner.
» Am I dependent or independent?
Your answers to questions on the FAFSA determine whether you are considered a dependent or independent student. The questions change a little from one year's FAFSA to the next year's; for instance, the 2015–16 FAFSA asks whether you were born before Jan. 1, 1992, while the 2014–15 FAFSA asks whether you were born before Jan. 1, 1991. Here are the questions that determine your dependency status-
» Which parent's information should I report on the FAFSA?
If your legal parents are married to each other, or are not married to each other and live together, you should report information about both of them on your FAFSA. (Your legal parents are your biological or adoptive parents, or your parents as determined by the state—for example, if the parent is listed on your birth certificate.) However, we recognize that many situations are a little more complicated, so we've provided information on how to figure out which parent(s) should provide information on the FAFSA-
- If your parents are living and legally married to each other, answer the questions about both of them.
- If your parents are living together and are not married, answer the questions about both of them.
- If your parent is widowed or was never married, answer the questions about that parent.
- If your parents are divorced or separated and don't live together, answer the questions about the parent with whom you lived more during the past 12 months. If you lived the same amount of time with each parent, give answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months or during the most recent year that you actually received support from a parent.
- If your parents are divorced but live together, you'll indicate their marital status as "Unmarried and both parents living together," and you'll answer the questions about both of them.
- If your parents are separated but live together, you'll indicate their marital status as "Married or remarried," and you'll answer the questions about both of them.
- If you have a stepparent who is married to the legal parent whose information you're reporting, you must provide information about that stepparent as well.
- The following people are not your parents unless they have adopted you: grandparents, foster parents, legal guardians, older brothers or sisters, and uncles or aunts.
Or view the federal fact sheet for additional information: Who Is My Parent When I Fill Out the FAFSA?
» What if I don't live with my parents?
You still must answer the questions about them if you're considered a dependent student. Students under the age of 24 must provide parental information on the FAFSA regardless of whether they financially depend on their parents for living expenses.
» What if my parents aren't going to help me pay for college and refuse to provide their info on the fafsa?
As per federal regulations none of the conditions below qualify as unusual circumstances meriting a dependency override:
- Parents refuse to contribute to the student's education
- Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification.
- Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes.
- Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.
» Special Cases
If you have no contact with your parents and don't know where they live, or if you are homeless-- fill out the FAFSA to the best of your ability and then contact our office. It's likely we'll ask you to complete our Independence Review Form found on our FORMS PAGE. Please know that our office strictly complies with Federal Regulations when determining independence.