Am I Dependent or Independent?

Both the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the California Dream Act (CDA) Application require information regarding the student's income and available resources. Additionally, some students are required to submit information about their parents. Knowing your dependency status can help you when you are going to fill out your financial aid application.

  • If you’re a dependent student, you will report your and your parents’ information.
  • If you’re an independent student, you will report your own information (and, if you’re married, your spouse’s).

Both federal and state student aid programs are based on the concept that it is primarily your and your family’s responsibility to pay for your education. These programs also assume that dependent students have the support of parents, so the parents’ information has to be assessed along with the student’s, in order to get a full picture of the family’s financial strength. If you’re a dependent student, it doesn’t mean your parents are required to pay anything toward your education; this is just a way of looking at all applicants in a consistent manner.

Below is a video by the Federal Department of Education that helps determine dependency status. Additionally we have added Frequently Asked Questions below which may assist you as your determine your dependency status and how to report parent information on applications.