When they apply for federal student aid, your child's answers to certain questions
will determine whether they're considered dependent on you. That is why they
must report their income and assets as well as your own.
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).
Your child is an independent student if at least one of the following applies to
- they were born before January 1, 1974;
- they're married;
- they're enrolled in a graduate or professional educational program (beyond a
- they have legal dependents other than a spouse;
- they're an orphan or ward of the court (or were a ward of the court until age
- they're a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.
If they claim to be an independent student, their school may ask them to submit
proof before they can receive any federal student aid. If the school thinks they have
unusual circumstances that would make them independent even though none of the
above criteria apply to them, have your child talk to their aid administrator.
change your status if they think 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.
Based on: The Financial Aid Student Guide from
the U.S. Department of Education