Change Dependent to Independent
The FAFSA Simplification Act, which was enacted into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, and amended by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, provides a clearer directive to assist applicants with unusual circumstances.
Students are classified as dependent or independent because federal student aid programs are based on the idea that students (and their parents or spouse, if applicable) have the primary responsibility for paying for their post-secondary education.
The U. S. Congress defines an independent student (for financial aid purposes) as one who meets one of the following conditions at the time the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is completed and signed for the appropriate year:
- You are married.
- You were born before January 1 of the year that would make you 24 years old.
- You are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training.
- You are a veteran of the U. S. Armed Services (discharge must not be dishonorable).
- You are working on a master’s or doctoral degree.
- You have children who receive more than half of their support from you.
- You have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you.
- When you were age 13 or older, A) both of your parents were deceased, B) you were in foster care, or C) you were a dependent/ward of the court.
- You are an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence.
- On or after July 1 you were determined to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless by either your school district liaison, the director of an emergency shelter, or the director of a runaway or homeless youth center.
Note: You do not need to complete this form if you answered yes to one of the above questions.
The Higher Education Act allows an aid administrator to consider dependency overrides on a case-by-case basis for students with unusual circumstances. However, none of the conditions listed below, singly or in combination, qualify as unusual circumstances or merit a dependency override:
- Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education.
- Parents are unwilling to provide information on the application or for verification.
- Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes.
- Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.
Some examples of circumstances that may qualify you for a dependency override are incarceration of your custodial parent, abandonment by both parents, history of parental alcohol or drug abuse, abusive home situation that is detrimental to your physical or mental well-being, or death of a parent after the FAFSA was filed.
After reviewing the above explanation, if you believe that you might qualify for a dependency override, please fully and appropriately complete the Unusual Circumstances Form, provide all requisite documents, and provide your signature on the form. Due to the high number of tasks mandated to the financial aid office, it is to your benefit to complete and submit all required documents as soon as possible. Once the financial aid office receives these documents, we will review and determine the request for independent status no later than 60 days after enrollment.
As provided by law, if the financial aid office does not determine the student should be considered independent, the student will either need to provide parental information within the FAFSA or the student will only be eligible for dependent-level Direct Unsubsidized Loans.Continue to Form »