FAFSA Status - Independent vs. Dependent Student

Marilyn Rodriguez Updated by Marilyn Rodriguez

Do I have to report my parent's income on my FAFSA application?

Your dependency status determines whose information you must report on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form.
  • If you’re a dependent student, you will report your and your parents’ information.
  • If you’re an independent student, you will report your own information (and, if you’re married, your spouse’s).

Determining Your Dependency Status Video

The federal student aid programs are based on the concept that it is primarily your and your family’s responsibility to pay for your education. A dependent student is assumed to have the support of parents, so the parents’ information has to be assessed along with the student’s, in order to get a full picture of the family’s financial strength. If you’re a dependent student, it doesn’t mean your parents are required to pay anything toward your education; this is just a way of looking at everyone in a consistent manner. If you answer YES to ANY of these questions, then you may be an independent student.

You may not be required to provide parental information on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form.


If you answer NO to ALL of these questions, then you may be considered a dependent student and may be required to provide your parents’ financial information when completing the FAFSA form.

1.      Will you be 24 or older by Jan. 1 of the school year for which you are applying for financial aid? For example, if you plan to start school in August 2020 for the 2020–21 school year, will you be 24 by Jan. 1, 2020 (i.e., were you born before Jan. 1, 1997)?

2.      Are you married or separated but not divorced?

3.      Will you be working toward a master’s or doctorate degree (such as M.A., MBA, M.D.,

J.D., Ph.D., Ed.D., etc.)?

4.      Do you have children who receive more than half of their support from you?

5.      Do you have dependents (other than children or a spouse) who live with you and receive more than half of their support from you?

6.      Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces for purposes other than training?

7.      Are you a veteran of the U.S. armed forces?

8.      At any time since you turned age 13, were both of your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a ward or dependent of the court?

9.      Are you an emancipated minor or are you in a legal guardianship as determined by a court?

10.  Are you an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

If you don’t answer “yes” to any of the questions above, you’re still considered a dependent student for purposes of applying for federal student aid even if you don’t live with your parents, are not claimed by your parents on their tax forms, or are paying for your own bills and educational expenses.

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