Independent or Dependent Student

When it comes to financial aid it is important to understand how a student is determined to an “independent” or “dependent” student, according to the federal government.  The independent status allows the financial aid analysis to be done solely on the student finances and not the parents. If that were the case it may allow the student to receive significant federal financial aid. Determining independent status is not dependent on the student paying their own taxes or if the parents don’t claim the student on their taxes.

In order for a student to be considered independent, he must fulfill one or more of these conditions:

  • Be born before January 1, 1992 (this is for the 2015-2016 year) (24 years old)
  • Be enrolled in a master’s or doctorate program as of Fall 2015
  • Be married as of the day you apply
  • Have children who get more than half their support from you between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016
  • Have other dependents who get half their support from you and live with you at the time you apply through June 30, 2016
  • Have both of your parents deceased, or be a ward of the court (at any time since you turned 13)
  • Be an active-duty member or veteran of the U.S. military
  • You have been deemed homeless or at risk of homelessness by a high school homelessness liaison or a director of a homeless shelter or transitional program
  • You are or were an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship as determined by the court of your home state

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