March 8, 2007

Independent Student Vs. Dependent Student

Posted in FAFSA, Grants, Misc, Parent PLUS Loans, Saving for College, Stafford Loans at 1:28 PM by kpops

Independant Students do not need to provide their parents information on the Fafsa but Dependant Students do need to. Do not confuse this with filing taxes as the criteria for these categories is not the same. Students and Parents often think that because the parent no longer claims the student on their taxes that the student is now considered an Independant. When it comes to filing for your taxes this is true but not when applying for Federal Financial Aid.

If you answer yes to any of the following questions than you are considered to be an Independant Student…

Are you 24 years of age or older?
Are you married?
Are you considered a Ward of the State?
Do you have any children?
Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
Are you enrolled in a Masters or Doctorate Degree Program?

If you answered no to all of these questions then you are considered to be a dependant student. In this case you must provide your parents information on your Fafsa in order to apply for Financial Aid.

Unsure of your status or think you may fall under special circumstances? You should call your school and discuss your situation with a Financial Aid Advisor and they can assist you with how to file your Fafsa.

The Student Loan Network: Stafford Federal Student Loans, Parent PLUS Loans, Student Loan Consolidation, Private Student Loans


  1. My daugter was a full time student in 2009. She turned 24 in November 2009, and born on nov 24, 1984. IRS says that I can’t claim her because of the age limit. (23?) COMMENT PLEASE

  2. Kim said,

    My daughter applied for 2010-2011 Financial Aid and a Loan in August of 2010. We thought she was considered an independent student as she had a child in January of 2009. In October of 2009 she started collecting TANIFF (welfare), she is a single mom. Financial Aid Dept. is saying because she lives at home with us, and did not have at least 6 months of income in 2009 to care for her child, she is not considered an independent student for that year and will not get Financial Aid unless she provides my income/tax information. Also, she did get Financial Aid for 2009-2010 school year. Can I get some advise?

  3. Alisa said,

    Hi i’m 21 and live on my own. i’m on unemployment and have decided to go back to school. my bf and i live together and pay all our own bills with no support from my family. how do i get considered to be and independant? i dont answer yes to any of those questions. the schools conider me a dependant even though my father and mother dont support me… what can i do?

  4. Scott said,

    CAN AN 18 YEAR OLD STUDENT PETITION TO BE AN EMANCIPATED MINOR SINCE COLLEGE STUDENTS ARE OTHERWISE CONSIDERED DEPENDENTS OF THEIR PARENTS? I know a young person who is going to community college in Dade County, Florida. This student needs the parents assistance for tuition but neither one can help at this time and the future appears to be grim on that front. The student just turned 18 a few weeks ago. The financial aid office told the student, after the student turned 18, that the student would qualify for financial aid (grants?) if the student is an emancipated minor. For financial aid and some tax purposes, many students age 24 and under are classified as dependents. The student graduated high school one year early and has completed the first year of an associate’s degree. Can a student who is already 18 petition the court for emancipation in Florida? My read of the statutes is that petitioning for emancipation does not apply here because the student is already 18. According to the limited information I have read so far on student loans, in order to qualify for certain financial aid the student should have petitioned the court for emancipation before turning 18. Anyone out there know the answer here for sure?

  5. Dwayne Parham said,

    The Parent Plus loan may not be guaranteed to you. If you are denied, then your child will be able to take out an Unsubstidized Stafford Loan as well as her Staffford(the one that all students can take). Also have her talk to her financial aid DIRECTOR. They are the head hanchos. The people in charge of Financial Aid. They will work with the student. Trust me, I know from experience.

  6. Amie said,

    How does my daughter get the money needed for college if we refuse to take Parent Plus Loans? We are eligable for the loans but don’t want to strap our budget any more than it already is. Adding a payment to our budget would not be wise. She is 19 and doesn’t have any credit built up. What avenues can she take to get the funds needed for college? Or, what can we do to help her get loans for college that would not put another monthly payment on us?

  7. diane said,

    If a 20 year old student has returned to school only after working independently in a full time position and has amassed independent income through a college trust fund set up by a relative and a substantial inheritance plus other savings, could this student still legally qualify for a Pell grant if his “family” income was low (parents choose to only work part time). Do the students personal assets count or just the parents?

  8. Shelby – there are lots of options.

    Scholarships are your best bet – you don’t have to pay them back.

    After scholarships, you want to look at Federal loans, such as the Stafford loan. Also, make sure to fill out the FAFSA so that you qualify.

    It’s important to remember that private loans are a last resort. Exhaust all your other options before looking at private loans.

  9. Shelby said,

    im 17, and i have been living independent for almost a year
    the goverments paying for my first yr of college
    is there any other funding i could get after high school?

  10. Steve said,

    What if the child is living on her own, paying her own bills, and has full time job. She is not married, no kids, not in armed forces and wants to start her 2nd year. Her Mom is being a jerk right now and won’t provide information. My wife and I made too much money. Any thoughts.

  11. Believe it or not that actually does sound reasonable. Most college students are Dependant students and aid is skewed in that regard. Your son may be able to talk to the school’s financial aid office and have his status changed to Independent, though he, and you, may have to prove he is not a Dependant.

  12. Kim Bierman said,

    My son is 21 yrs 3 mos. old. He has not lived with me since 12/05 when he went to live with his father. He has lived with his girlfriend and now his grandmother since the summer of 2006. He now wants to get financial aid for online classes and they want my income to determine his eligibility. Is this correct being that he has not lived with me in 2 1/2 years?

  13. Dustin said,

    This information doesn’t make sense. “If you answer yes to any of the following questions than you are considered to be an Independant Student…” and then it goes on to say “If you answered yes to any of these questions then you are considered to be a dependant student.” What!!!! this was not prof read!!

    • heh said,

      maybe you just dont take you time to read all the words before you criticize

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