For the year in which you would like to enroll, you are automatically determined to be an Independent Applicant for federal student aid if you meet one of the following criteria:
- You are at least 24 years old.
- You are or will be married as of the date you sign your FAFSA application.
- You will be working on a master’s or doctorate program (such as M.A., MBA, MD, J.D., Ph.D., Ed.D., graduate certificate, etc.).
- You are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. military for purposes other than training.
- You are a veteran of the U.S military.
- You have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1 and June 30.
- 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.
- At any time since you turned age 13, both of your parents are deceased and you were in foster care or were a dependent or ward of the court.
- As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, you are or were an emancipated minor.
- As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, you are or were in legal guardianship.
- At any time on or after July 1, 2011, your high school or school district homeless liaison determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless.
- At any time on or after July 1, 2011, the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who is homeless.
- At any time on or after July 1, 2011, the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or is self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.
“Homeless” means lacking fixed, regular and adequate housing. You may be homeless if you are living in shelters, parks, motels or cars, or are temporarily living with other people because you have nowhere else to go. Also, if you are living in any of these situations and fleeing an abusive parent, you may be considered homeless even if your parent would provide support and a place to live.
“Unaccompanied” means you are not living in the physical custody of your parent or guardian.
“Youth” means you are 21 years of age or younger, or you are still enrolled in high school.
Under very limited circumstances (for example, your parents are incarcerated; you have left home due to an abusive family environment; or you do not know where your parents are and are unable to contact them), you may be able to submit your FAFSA without parental information. Once you submit your FAFSA without parental data, you must follow up with the Financial Aid Office at the college you plan to attend, in order to complete your FAFSA.
For federal student aid purposes, someone who is incarcerated is not considered a ward of the court.
The financial aid administrator at your school may require you to provide proof that you were in foster care or a dependent or ward of the court.
The financial aid administrator at your college may require you to provide proof that you were an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship.
Dependent students are those who meet none of the above criteria for independent students, and typically receive at least half of their living expense support from parents or guardians.