Dependency Status Review
Request for Review of Dependency Status
The Federal Student Aid Programs are based on the concept that the student and parent(s) are primarily responsible for meeting a student's educational expenses.
The U.S. Department of Education generally defines unmarried undergraduate students under the age of 24 as dependent. For such students, aid eligibility is determined by reporting their parents' income and assets, as well as their own, on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If, however, you are unable to provide either of your parents' information on the FAFSA due to unusual circumstances, you may request consideration of a dependency override.
Dependent vs Independent
It is important to understand what makes a student dependent or independent for federal aid purposes. According to the Department of Education, an independent student must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- 24 years of age or older
- Enrolled in a master's or doctorate program
- A veteran or active duty member of the armed forces
- An orphan or ward of the court
- Supporting at least one legal dependent other than a spouse
- An emancipated minor, ward of the court, in foster care or under legal guardianship of someone other than a parent prior to age 18
- Homeless or at risk of becoming homeless
If you are unsure of your status, select the guide below t help you determine your dependency status.
What is a Request for Review of Dependency Status?
A request for review of dependency status occurs when a financial aid advisor exercises professional judgment to override the standard dependency criteria based on extenuating family circumstances. Section 480 (d) of the HEA states that the institution’s decision to override a student’s dependency status must be made on a case-by-case basis, justified by an individual student’s unusual circumstances, and must be documented in the student’s file.
What circumstances may warrant a dependency override?
The following are some examples that may warrant a dependency override if the student is able to provide the required documentation. This list is not all-inclusive and the precence of one or more of these situations does not guarenteee the approval of a dependency override.
- Abandonment – parents voluntarily left the student or were absent in the student’s life for an extended period of time.
- Unsafe living environment as a result of physical, emotional, sexual or substance abuse by a parent.
- Parental incarceration
- Parental mental incapacity/institutionalization
- Death of custodial parent and no contact with other biological/legal parent.
- Parents do not reside in the U.S. and cannot be contacted because of political policy, war or civil unrest
- Parents disowned or ended contact/support because of conflicting beliefs or practices related to race, religion, education, health, gender, sexual orientation, cultural expectations, etc.
A student's dependency status is not based on their ability to demonstrate self-sufficiency, nor is it based on their parents' inability or unwillingness to assist them financially. By federal law, the following circumstances DO NOT warrant a dependency override, individually or in combination:
- Parent(s) do not claim you as a dependent for income tax purposes;
- Parent(s) file late or do not file federal income taxes even though they are legally required to;
- Parent(s) are financially unable or unwilling to contribute to your education;
- Parent(s) refuse to provide their information on the FAFSA, or if needed to complete the Verification process;
- You are unwilling to ask your parent(s) to complete the FAFSA;
- You are completely self-sufficient (have a job, pay your own bills, etc.).
Fall 2023-Spring/Summer 2024 Special Circumstance Request
- November 15, 2023 – Students enrolled for Fall/Spring semester
- April 15, 2024 – Students only enrolled for Spring semester
- July 26, 2024 – Students enrolled for Summer semester