Determining Your Dependency Status

For financial aid purposes, the Department of Education classifies students as either dependent or independent. Dependent students file the FAFSA using their own and their parent(s) information. Independent students are required to provide only their own and their spouse’s (if married) information. Dependency status depends on age as well as other criteria.

It is important to note that financial aid dependency is not related to dependency for tax purposes. Select the links below for details on how dependency status is determined as well as answers to questions regarding which parent’s information should be reported and what to do if you are not in contact with your parents.

Are you dependent or independent?

Who should you list as your parent on the FAFSA?

Get additional details regarding your dependency status.

Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding your dependency status or feel that your particular situation warrants additional review.

If you are a dependent student, and have married since you completed the FAFSA, please contact our office to see if your eligibility has changed.

The U.S Department of Education maintains the following circumstances do NOT make a student independent:

  • Parents refusing to contribute to the student’s education;
  • Parents unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification;
  • Parents not claiming the student as a dependent for income tax purposes;
  • A student can demonstrate total self-sufficiency, has been working and “on their own” for several years.

Federal law allows some students with special circumstances that would otherwise be considered dependent to submit the FASFA without parental information. Some examples of special circumstances are:

  • Your parents are incarcerated;
  • You have left home due to an abusive family environment;
  • You do not know where your parents are and are unable to contact them.

If you are unable to provide parental information, you need to contact us to discuss your situation and receive information on what additional documentation will be required.

If your parent refuses to provide information, the parent must provide a signed statement to the Financial Aid Department that they 1) refuse to complete the FAFSA and 2) are no longer supporting their child. In this circumstance, you can only be offered an unsubsidized loan. The amount of the loan would be determined by your grade level ($5,500 for first year students; $6,500 for second year students; $7,500 for third year students and beyond).