Dependency Status

Who Defines Dependency Status

The Department of Education defines what constitutes an independent student for purposes of determining financial aid eligibility.  According to this definition, if you do not meet one of the criteria listed below, you are considered dependent and your parent’s information must be included on your (FAFSA).



Criteria for Independent Status

To be automatically considered independent for financial aid purposes, a student must meet at least one of the following criteria when completing the FAFSA:

  • You were born before:
    • January 1, 1997 (for the 2020-2021 FAFSA)
    • January 1, 1998 (for the 2021-2022 FAFSA)
  • You were a ward of the court until age 18.
  • You are an orphan (both parents are deceased).
  • You are married.
  • You are a veteran of the United States Armed Forces.
  • You have children or other legal dependents (other than a spouse) who receive more than half of their support from you.
  • You are enrolled in a graduate or professional program.
  • Currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training.
  • Homeless
  • Self-supporting and at risk of being homeless

Appeals for Independent Status

If you do not meet one of the above criteria, but have extenuating circumstances relating to your family situation, you may submit an appeal for independent status.

Please note that independent status appeals are not approved for the following situations:

  • Student is completely self-sufficient, without proof of estrangement from parents.
  • Parents do not contribute to costs for college.
  • Parents refuse to supply information for FAFSA application or verification process.

If you believe your situation warrants an appeal for independent status, please contact the Campus Hub for information on the appeal process.