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FAFSA Dependency

Though many families believe parents are no longer financially responsible for a child once they graduate from high school, tax and financial aid guidelines differ pertaining to dependency. The majority of student aid programs are based on both student and parent bearing the responsibility for payment of the costs of a student's college education.

Dependency, According to the FAFSA

The following checklists provide an overview of "Dependency Questions" found on the FAFSA. These questions are valid for the following school years.

If the student answers "yes" to any of the following questions, he/she is considered to be independent.

FAFSA 2014-2015

  • Were you born before January 1, 1991?
  • As of today, are you married? (Also answer "Yes" if you are separated but not divorced.)
  • At the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, will you be working on a master's or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, graduate certificate, etc.)?
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
  • Do you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015?
  • Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2015?
  • At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents* deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
  • As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?
  • As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you in a legal guardianship?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2013, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2013, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2013, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

* Parents:
For Federal Student Aid (FSA) purposes, this includes a biological or adoptive parent, or someone married to a biological or adoptive parent.

The following may not be considered as parents:

  • Legal Guardians
  • Foster Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Other Relatives

Appeals

The US Department of Education does not consider appeals to change dependency status. However, the ISU Director of Student Financial Aid may change the student's status from Dependent to Independent if the circumstances justify doing so.

Typically, neither a student's decision to deny financial assistance from their parents nor the parent's decision to deny financial assistance to the student are considered valid reasons to change dependency status.

If the student believes their status should be independent for financial aid purposes,
they may complete one of the Independent Appeal Forms:

FAFSA Independent Appeal Application and forms for students seeking consideration for an initial independent appeal
2014-2015 (.pdf) download (.pdf) view
FAFSA Independent Appeal Renewal Instructions for completing the FAFSA for students who have been granted an independent appeal by the Office of Student Financial Aid
2014-2015 (.pdf) download (.pdf) view