When you apply for federal student aid, your answers to certain questions will determine whether you are considered dependent on your parents or independent. If you are considered dependent on your parents, you must report their income and assets as well as your own. If you are independent, you must report only your own income and assets (and those of your spouse, if you are married).
You are an independent student if at least one of the following applies to you:
- you were born before January 1, 1987;
- you are married;
- you are enrolled in a graduate or professional educational program (beyond a bachelor's degree);
- you have legal dependents other than a spouse;
- you are an orphan or ward of the court (or were a ward of the court until age 18); or
- you are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces ("veteran" includes a student who attended a U.S. military academy who was released under a condition other than dishonorable).
If you claim to be an independent and have unusual circumstances that would make you independent even though none of the above criteria apply to you, you must complete a Dependency Status Appeal Form and submit the required documentation requested on the form. The decision is based on the financial aid counselor's professional judgment and is final.