Skip to Main content

Determining Dependency

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:

“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.