Requirements for Determination of Independent Student Status

To be considered an independent student for any federal financial aid program, students must meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Age 24 or older as of December 31 of the award year
  2. For students under 24, one of the following criteria must be met:
    • Married student (at the time the FAFSA is signed)
    • Graduate or professional student
    • Veteran or currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than basic training
    • Have children and/or legal dependents other than a spouse for whom student provides more than 50 percent of the financial support throughout the award year
    • Orphan, foster child, or ward of the court at age 13 or older
    • Have been determined by a court in your state of legal residence that you are an emancipated minor, or that you are in a legal guardianship at the time the FAFSA is signed or were in a legal guardianship immediately before reaching the age of being an adult in your state
    • An unaccompanied youth who is determined to be homeless, or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, by your high school, a school district homeless liaison, the director of a runaway or homeless youth center/transitional living program, or the director of a shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
    • Classified by the Office of Financial Aid as independent because of other unusual circumstances that have been fully documented and are consistent with federal regulations

The determination of dependency status is derived from the answers to the dependency status questions on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Further information regarding dependency status questions can be found at the Federal Student Aid website.

Students who do not meet the federal definition of an independent student, and who have extenuating circumstances, may request consideration for a Dependency Override. In such cases, the Office of Financial Aid will require additional certification and documentation to determine that a student is independent for purposes of federal financial aid programs. A determination of independent student status for federal student aid purposes does not automatically translate to the same determination for state aid programs and vice versa, nor does this determination guarantee that an applicant will receive additional financial aid that is sufficient to meet the cost of attendance.