The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a snapshot of your family’s financial situation on the day you submit the application to apply for federal and state financial aid for college. You’re then entitled to financial aid based on your financial need and the educational expenses of the college you choose to attend. Your family’s income, assets, and benefits received will be put into a formula set by Congress, and the results of that calculation are referred to as your Student Aid Index (SAI). Your college financial aid office will use the SAI to determine how much federal student aid you’re eligible to receive at their institution.
There are two kinds of students who will complete the FAFSA: Dependent students and independent students. Dependent students will be required to include parent information on the FAFSA, and independent students will not.
How does a student know if they’re dependent or independent?
UCanGo2.org has created a Dependency Questionnaire that can be used to determine your dependency status. The questionnaire provides a series of questions regarding your age, marital status, family situation, and more.
If you answer YES to any of these questions, you’re considered an independent student for financial aid purposes, and will not need parental information on the FAFSA. If you cannot answer YES to any questions, you will be considered a dependent student and will be required to include parent information when completing the FAFSA.
If the FAFSA determines you’re a dependent student, but you feel you have special circumstances that prevent you from obtaining parental information, you may be granted Provisional Independent Status. In this situation you may still complete the FAFSA on your own, but will be required to provide certain documentation to confirm your status with your college financial aid office.
For any other questions about the FAFSA, FSA IDs, or financial aid, please visit StudentAid.gov.