Dependent or Independent?
When you apply for federal student aid, your answers to certain questions will determine whether you are considered a dependent of your parents or an independent student. If you are considered dependent, your parents' income and assets, as well as your own, must be reported. If you are independent, you will need to report only your own income and assets (and those of your spouse, if you're married). Not living with your parents does not automatically classify you as independent.
Students are classified as dependent or independent because federal student aid programs are based on the principle that students (and their parents or spouse, if applicable) are considered the primary source of support for college.
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 for the 2015-2016 Academic Year if you can answer yes to at least one of the following:
- Were you born before January 1, 1992?
- As of today, are you married? (Answer "Yes" if you are separated but not divorced.)
- At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, will you be working on a master's or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, or 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 who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016?
- 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, 2016?
- 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?
- As determined by a court in your state of legal residency, are you or were you an emancipated minor?
- As determined by a court in your state of legal residency, are you or were you in legal guardianship?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2014, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2014, 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?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2014, 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?
You are considered a dependent student if you answer "NO" to every question listed in the above section. If you are considered a dependent of your parents, you must report your parents income and assets as well as your own.