Dependent vs. Independent
The federal definition of an independent student is one who can answer yes to any of the following questions for 2014-2015:
- Were you born before January 1, 1991?
- As of today, are you married? (Answer "yes" if you are separated, but not divorced.)
- At the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, will you be working on a master's or doctorate program (such as MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, or graduate certificate?
- Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
- Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
- Do you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015?
- Do 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, 2015?
- At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
- As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?
- As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you in a legal guardianship?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2013, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2013 did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2013 did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
Applicants who answer "no" to all of these questions are dependent students and are required to report parental information on the application.
However, in unusual circumstances, a student who does not meet any of these criteria may still be considered independent if a compelling case can be made to override the dependent status. A Dependency Review Request must be completed and submitted for review.
Earned income at any level does not constitute an unusual circumstance and does not support an independent status. Also, parental unwillingness to provide information does not support an independent status.