Student Dependency Status

A student's dependency status determines whose information must be reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Opens in new window .

  • If the student is considered a dependent student, they are required to report both their and their parents’ information.
  • If the student is considered a independent student, they are only required to report their own information (and their spouse’s, if married).

The federal student aid programs are based on the concept that it is primarily you and your family’s responsibility to pay for your education. As a dependent student is assumed to have the support of parents, 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 everyone in a consistent manner.

Your answers to questions on the FAFSA determine whether you are considered a dependent or independent student. The questions change a little from one year’s FAFSA to the next year’s; for instance, the 2016–17 FAFSA asks whether you were born before Jan. 1, 1993, while the 2015–16 FAFSA asks whether you were born before Jan. 1, 1992. Visit Federal Student Aid on dependency Opens in new window  to view the questions and seek out other information related to dependency status. 

Are you ready to complete the FAFSAOpens in new window Opens in new window , but are unsure whether you'll need to provide parental information on the form? Check out this video to help you determine whether you're an independent or dependent student. For additional information, visit Student Aid Opens in new window . (Information and Video source, YoutubeOpens in new window Opens in new window Federal Student AidOpens in new window Opens in new window ). 

Dependency Status Questions from the 2016-17 FAFSA

Click the boxes below to read through the dependency status questions so you can see if your information will be required.

Dependency Status Questions on the 2016–17 FAFSA

Answer these questions as your student. Responses to these questions are based on the student's status and information.

Question Response

Were you born before Jan. 1, 1993?

Yes

No

As of today, are you married? (Also answer “Yes” if you are separated but not divorced.)

Yes

No 

At the beginning of the 2016–17 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program (such as an M.A., M.B.A., M.D., J.D., Ph.D., Ed.D., graduate certificate, etc.)?

Yes

No

Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces for purposes other than training? (If you are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee, are you on active duty for other than state or training purposes?)

Yes

No

Are you a veteran of the U.S. armed forces?*

Yes

No

Do you now have—or will you have—children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017?

Yes

No

Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2017?

Yes

No

At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?

Yes

No

Has it been determined by a court in your state of legal residence that you are an emancipated minor or that someone other than your parent or stepparent has legal guardianship of you? (You also should answer "Yes" if you are now an adult but were in legal guardianship immediately before you reached the age of being an adult in your state. Answer "No" if the court papers say "custody" rather than "guardianship.")

Yes

No

At any time on or after July 1, 2015, were you determined to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, as determined by (a) your high school or district homeless liaison, (b) the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or (c) the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program?**

Yes

No

* Answer No (you are not a veteran) if you (1) have never engaged in active duty (including basic training) in the U.S. armed forces, (2) are currently a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) student or a cadet or midshipman at a service academy, (3) are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee activated only for state or training purposes, or (4) were engaged in active duty in the U.S. armed forces but released under dishonorable conditions. Also answer No if you are currently serving in the U.S. armed forces and will continue to serve through June 30, 2016.
Answer Yes (you are a veteran) if you (1) have engaged in active duty (including basic training) in the U.S. armed forces or are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee who was called to active duty for other than state or training purposes, or were a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies and (2) were released under a condition other than dishonorable. Also answer Yes if you are not a veteran now but will be one by June 30, 2016.

**If you do not have a determination that you are homeless, but you believe you are an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, answer “No” to the FAFSA questions concerning being homeless. Then contact yourfinancial aid office to explain your situation.

What if I answered Yes to one or more of the questions above?

If so, then for federal student aid purposes, you’re considered to be an independent student and will not provide information about your parents on the FAFSA.

What if I answered No to every question?

If so, then for federal student aid purposes, you’re considered to be a dependent student, and you must provide information about your parents on the FAFSA.