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Fellowships & Grants
When you apply for federal student aid, your answers to certain questions
will determine whether you're considered dependent on your parents--and,
therefore, whether you must report their income and assets as well as your
own--or whether you're independent and must report only your own income and
assets (and those of your spouse, if you're married).
Students are classified as dependent or independent because federal student
aid programs are based on the idea that students (and their parents or spouse,
if applicable) have the primary responsibility for paying for their
postsecondary education. Students who have access to parental support (dependent
students) should not receive need-based federal funds at the expense of students
who do not have such access (independent students).
You're an independent student if at least one of the following applies to
- you were born before January 1, 1974;
- you're married;
- you're enrolled in a graduate or professional educational program (beyond a
- you have legal dependents other than a spouse;
- you're an orphan or ward of the court (or were a ward of the court until age
- you're a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.
If you claim to be an independent student, your school may ask you to submit
proof before you can receive any federal student aid. If you think you have
unusual circumstances that would make you independent even though none of the
above criteria apply to you, talk to your aid administrator. He or she can
change your status if he or she thinks your circumstances warrant it based on
the documentation you provide. But remember, the aid administrator won't
automatically do this. That decision is based on his or her judgment, and it's
final--you can't appeal it to the U.S. Department of Education.
Courtesy of: The Financial Aid Student Guide from
the U.S. Department of Education