Financial Aid: Financial Aid Eligibility for Independent Students

The federal government has established criteria for classifying financial aid recipients as dependent or independent. If you are classified as Dependent, your parents' assets and income combined with your own are considered when determining your financial need. If you are classified as Independent, your need is evaluated solely on yours (and your spouse's) assets and income.

You are considered Independent if you meet one or more of the following conditions:

  • You are 24 years of age of older.
  • You are enrolled in a masters or doctorate program.
  • You are legally married at the time you sign your FAFSA application.
  • You have children or other dependents who receive more than half of their support from you now and through June 30 of the year in which you receive financial aid.
  • You have legal dependents other than a spouse or children who receive more than half of their support from you.
  • You are a foster child or ward of the court after the age of 13.
  • You are a legally emancipated minor with documentation of the court judgment. Emancipated minor is a formal legal status that must be declared in a court of law. Simply moving out of your parents’ household does not count. A judge must legally declare you emancipated. The court order must still be in effect when you file your FAFSA.
  • You are in legal guardianship as determined by a court.
  • You are homeless. Homeless is defined as lacking fixed, regular, adequate housing. This includes living in shelters, hotels, cars, etc.
  • You are a veteran of the Armed Forces.
  • You are currently serving on active duty in the Armed Forces for other than training purposes.

If you cannot answer Yes to any of these items, you are considered dependent on your parent(s) and must include parental financial information on your financial forms.

If you think you have extenuating circumstances that would exempt you from including parental information, contact student services support by phone at 800-888-8682 or by chat, 24 hours a day.