Are you DEPENDENT or INDEPENDENT?
If you are 23 years old or younger, you are considered a dependent student – according to FAFSA – unless you meet the exception criteria listed in the independent section below.
When dependent students meet with a counselor to fill out the FAFSA, they will need to bring:
- Parents tax forms (1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, etc)
- Parent(s) date of birth
- Parent(s) social security number
- Parent date of marriage (mo/yr)
- Parents phone numbers – home and cell
- Parents email addresses
- If parents are divorced, the month and year of the divorce
- If parents are legal residents, date of residency
If a student has reach the age of 24, they will be able to fill out the FAFSA as an independent student. If they are under the age of 24, they will still be considered a dependent of their parents and must calculate their parent’s income and household into their FAFSA, even if they do not live with their parents and have no parental support.
There are exceptions to this rule, where a student under 24 can be considered independent. The exceptions are as follows:
- A veteran of the Armed Forces
- Currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces other than training
- Is a student working on a degree beyond a bachelor’s degree
- Has a dependent child – parent must meet financial need of child 51% or more
- Is (at any time since age 13) an orphan (both parents deceased), was in foster care, or was a dependent ward of the court
- Was an emancipated minor as determined by the court in their state of legal residence
- Was placed in someone’s legal guardianship, determined by the courts
- Is homeless or at risk of being homeless, without their parents
If they still don’t meet any of the criteria listed above, they may apply for a DEPENDENCY OVERRIDE through the financial aid office to appeal their dependency status. However, these are usually extreme circumstances (Override of dependent status due to unusual circumstances: Parent(s) incarcerated or hospitalized; victim of any kind of abuse by immediate family member; has parent(s) living outside the country and unable to maintain reasonable contact with them.
- If an independent student worked, they need to bring: Tax forms (1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, etc) filed for the most recent year.
- If an independent student received any government assistance – such as CalWorks/TANF, SSI, food stamps, etc – they need to bring in documentation/proof (dated within the past 60 days)
Take a look at the FAFSA website for more information