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Find Out Your Dependency Status For FAFSA

Whether you're considered dependent or independent is key to completing the FAFSA

Here's how dependency status affects completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA):

  • Dependent students. Both the student and the student's parent(s) must provide financial information on the FAFSA.

  • Independent. Only the student's information is required to complete the FAFSA.

    • Married. The student will need his or her spouse information to complete the FAFSA.

Determining dependency

For the 2017-18 school year, a student is considered independent only if he or she can answer "yes" to any one of the following questions. If the student answers "yes," he or she needs only to complete the student sections of the FAFSA.

  • Were you born before January 1, 1994?

  • As of today, are you married? (Also answer "Yes" if you are separated but not divorced.)

  • At the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, will you be working on a master's or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, graduate certificate, etc.)?

  • 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, 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?

  • Are you or were you an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?

  • Does someone other than your parent or stepparent have legal guardian At any time on or after July 1, 2016, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

  • At any time on or after July 1, 2016, 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 or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

  • At any time on or after July 1, 2016, 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?

Exceptions

For non-federal funds, such as institutional aid, some schools may require independent students to provide parental information on the FAFSA. An independent student may also need to provide parental data for certain federal programs administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

*The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Education rules for determining dependency are different. The student and family should be prepared to provide supporting documentation.



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