Dependent or Independent?
Learn more about filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
How you answer the questions on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) determines your dependency status.
- Dependent students report their own and their parents’ income and information.
- If your parents are divorced or separated, include the parent you lived with, lived with last, or lived with the most.
- If the parent you lived with has remarried, you must also include your step-parent’s information.
- Do not include other relatives, such as grandparents, if you do not live with a parent and the relative provides for you (see “no contact with parents” below).
- Independent students report their own information, and if married, their spouse’s.
Your dependency status is primarily determined by your age, but also considers if you are married, or if you provide more than 50% support for your dependent child. It has nothing to do with:
- Whether you live with your parents
- Whether they support you financially, or
- Whether you independently support yourself
Parents who Refuse to Provide Information on the Application
If your parents refuse to provide information on the FAFSA, or refuse to sign the application, it does not change your dependency status. If a dependent student submits the application without parent information and signature, your application is rejected by the federal processor, and you might not be eligible for federal student aid. You may qualify for a loan only, but this is the most you qualify for. The FAFSA instructions tell you what to do if you are in this situation. Learn more about how to fill out the FAFSA form when your parents aren’t supporting you and won’t provide their information.
Students Who Have No Contact with Parents
If you have no contact with your parents and don’t know where they live, or you’ve left home due to a difficult or abusive situation, fill out the FAFSA form and then immediately get in touch with us. Our staff can tell you what to do next. Learn more about how to fill out the FAFSA form if you have special circumstances that prevent you from providing parent information.