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About Dependency Status for Financial Aid

Financial aid regulations assume that student and parents have primary responsibility for meeting the educational costs of post-secondary education. The level of contribution is based on ability to pay, not on willingness to pay.

If a student can answer YES to at least ONE question in Step Three of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the student is considered "independent," meaning parental information is not required on the FAFSA. Additional verification or documentation may be required by our office.

The Step Three questions on the FAFSA include:

      • Were you born before January 1, 19XX (making you 24 or older)?
      • Are you married as of day you file FAFSA?
      • Are you working on a master's or doctorate program?
      • Are you currently active duty military personnel for other than training purposes?
      • Are you a veteran of the US Armed Forces?
      • Do you have children who receive more than half of their support from you?
      • Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and receive more than half of their support from you?
      • Are both of your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a ward of the court after age 13?
      • Are you an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
      • Do you have a legal guardian? This is not a biological parent, but someone who has been appointed by a court to serve as your guardian.
      • Did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
      • Did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
      • 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?

      • Circumstances That Do Not Warrant a Dependent Status:
        • Parents refuse to contribute to educational costs
        • Parents unwilling to provide information on FAFSA application or for verification purposes
        • Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes
        • Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency

    The following procedures outline what the financial aid administrator will do:

    Upon receipt of the Petition to be Independent and all letters and documents from the student, the Financial Aid administrator will review the appeal and use professional judgment to approve or deny it. If it is determined that further clarification is required before making a decision, a conference will be arranged with the student.

    Dependency Status-FAQs

    What if Your Parents are Reluctant to Help?

    If your parents refuse to file the FAFSA or help pay for college expenses, visit the FinAid website for a discussion on the subject.

    What if I have an Irreconcilable Break with my Parents?
    • The student must complete the Petition to be Independent form
    • Provide all the requirements as outlined on the Petition to be Independent form
    • Additional documents pertinent to this petition is recommended
    What are Some Unusual Circumstances that May Warrant a Student to File a Petition to be Independent?
    • Abusive family environment
    • Abandonment
    • Unusual circumstances that do not preclude a student from answering "yes" to a homeless question, if applicable
    • Irreconcilable and unusual circumstances that do not warrant a dependency override by themselves
    What If You're Getting Married?

    You must list your current marital status on the FAFSA at the time of filing. If you marry after you file the FAFSA, you must file the FAFSA as single. If you answered NO to all questions in Step Three of the FAFSA, you will be considered a dependent student and your financial aid package will be determined using parental income.

    Download the Petition to Be Independent