While completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, you’ll answer up to 13 questions about your dependency status. If you answer NO to every question, you’ll be considered a dependent student and will be asked to supply your parents’ income information as well as your own.
If you answer YES to any one of those questions, you’ll be considered an independent student and will be asked to supply only your own income and tax information (and your spouse’s, if applicable).
Exceptions can sometimes be made for dependent students who are unable to supply parental information. If the FAFSA says you’re dependent and you believe your status should be changed to independent, be sure to discuss your situation with a financial aid officer at your college(s) of interest. Fair warning, though—the FAFSA states that you won’t be switched to an independent status simply because:
- You don’t live with your parents
- Your parents don’t provide you with financial support
- Your parents refuse to contribute to your college expenses
- Your parents don’t claim you as a dependent on their income tax return, or
- Your parents don’t want to provide their information on your FAFSA.