An necessary distinction when filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is whether or not to file as a dependent or unbiased student. Which one are you? Your alternative might have a big effect on how a lot help you obtain.
Why is that? Because the extra revenue you report in your FAFSA, the much less help you will obtain.
What is a dependent student?
In normal, a dependent student is one that’s depending on their mother or father or guardian for monetary help and is subsequently required to report that revenue on the FAFSA.
The Department of Education has particular standards to find out dependency for the aim of student help. A dependent student is a student who doesn’t meet any of the necessities for an unbiased student—usually an undergrad student who lives with their dad and mom.
See additionally: How Does the FAFSA Work?
What is an unbiased student?
An unbiased student solely experiences their very own revenue and their partner’s revenue, if relevant.
A student is taken into account unbiased if they’re:
- Earning a graduate diploma
- A veteran or serving in energetic obligation within the army
- In foster care or misplaced each dad and mom after the age of 13
- Legally emancipated from their dad and mom or guardians
- Homeless or deemed in danger for homelessness by an accepted official
- Responsible for a kid or dependent who receives greater than half of their help from the student
- Going to show 24 earlier than January 1st of the varsity 12 months for which they’re making use of for help
If you meet even ONE of the above standards for unbiased students, you do NOT to wish to incorporate your dad and mom’ data on the FAFSA.
Your college might ask for documentation of your unbiased standing, reminiscent of a wedding certificates or proof of emancipation, so be ready to offer it.
See additionally: 11 Common FAFSA Mistakes that Can Cost You Money
When it’s difficult to fill out the FAFSA as a dependent student
Remember, in the event you meet even simply one of many necessities above, you’re thought of unbiased. That stays the case even when your mother or father or dad and mom don’t reside with you, are unwilling to offer their data, or refuse to have contact with you.
If you accomplished the FAFSA as a dependent student, however consider you ought to be thought of unbiased as a result of difficult household circumstances or different causes, contact your college’s monetary help workplace upon getting been accepted.
If you’ve gotten divorced dad and mom
If your dad and mom are divorced and also you’re a dependent student, you solely want to use along with your custodial mother or father’s monetary data. If your custodial mother or father has remarried, additionally, you will want to incorporate your custodial mother or father’s partner’s revenue data as nicely.
If a single, divorced mother or father receives little one help, it have to be declared together with their revenue.
See additionally: We Answer Your FAFSA Questions
Changing your standing
If your dad and mom can not contribute to your schooling as a result of loss of life, incapacity, incarceration, abandonment, abuse or one more reason, you might be eligible to vary your standing by finishing a Dependency Review Form.
Keep in thoughts, although, that standing modifications are uncommon and usually solely granted in excessive circumstances on the discretion of your college’s monetary help workplace.
Need extra assist along with your FAFSA?
Be positive to verify our question-by-question FAFSA information to assist be certain that you qualify for the utmost quantity of monetary help that you simply’re entitled to.