Dependent or Independent

Whether students are considered "dependent" or "independent" is key to establishing eligibility for financial aid and to the correct completion of your FAFSA.  Students are classified as dependent or independent because federal student aid programs are based on the idea that students (and their parents or spouse, if applicable) have the primary responsibility for paying for their postsecondary education.

When you apply for federal student aid, your answers to certain questions will determine whether you are considered dependent upon your parents or independent, without consideration of your parents income and info.

Independent Students

If you are independent, you must report only your own income and assets (and those of your spouse, if you are married).

You're an independent student if at least one of the following applies to you:

  1. You were born before January 1, 1991
  2. You're enrolled in a graduate or professional educational program (beyond a bachelor's degree)
  3. You're married
  4. You have children who receive more than half of their support from you.
  5. You have legal dependents other than a spouse?
    Answer "YES" ONLY if:

    • You have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2015
  6. You're an orphan (both parents deceased) or ward of the court (or were you a ward of the court until age 18).
  7. You are currently serving on active duty in the US Armed Forces for purposes other than training.
  8. You're a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
    Answer "YES" ONLY if:

    • "veteran" includes students who attend a U.S. federal military academy and who were released under a condition other than dishonorable.

Dependent Students

You are considered a dependent student if you answered "NO" to every question listed above.

If you are considered a dependent of your parents, you must report their income and assets as well as your own.

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