Financial aid regulations assume that the student and the parents have primary responsibility for meeting the educational costs to attend school. The level of contribution is based on ability to pay, not on willingness to pay.
If a student can answer YES to at least ONE question in section two of the FAFSA worksheet, the student is considered "independent" for financial aid purposes, meaning no parent information is to be reported on the FAFSA. The questions are:
- Were you born before January 1, (making you 24 or older)?
- Are you married as of day you file FAFSA?
- Are you working on a master's or doctorate program?
- Are you serving on active duty in the US Armed Forces?
- Are you a veteran of the US Armed Forces?
- Have children who receive more than half of their support from you?
- Since the age of 13, were both parents deceased?
- Were you in foster care since turning 13?
- Have dependents (other than your children or spouse)?
- Were you a dependent or ward of the court since turning 13?
- Are you currently or was you an emancipated minor?
- Are you or were you in legal guardianship (documents by a court)?
- Are you homeless or are you at risk of being homeless?
Neither parent refusal to contribute to the student's education nor parent unwillingness to provide information on the student aid application or for verification are grounds to be concerned independent. For more information about parent(s) reluctant to help, please visit www.FinAid.org.
Per federal regulations, a student may be considered independent if the student submits documentation that the student's independent status is based on unusual circumstances. Unusual circumstances are those circumstances, which, in the professional judgment of the Financial Aid Office, warrant the student to be considered independent. Examples would include situations in which the student's parents are physically or mentally incapacitated.
Although married students are considered independent, students that marry after filing the FAFSA cannot update their marital status to be considered independent. Students must list their current marital status on the FAFSA at the time they file the form. If the student answer NO to all questions in Step Three of the FAFSA, the student will be considered a dependent student and their financial aid package will be determined using their parent(s) income information.