Are You Dependent or Independent?
Before you pursue student aid, you need to figure out if you should apply as a dependent student or independent student.
Why Is This Important?
One of the basic principles of student aid in the United States is that families are expected to pay for college costs to the best of their ability.
- If you are a dependent student, both you and your parents must provide financial information on the FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Even if they are unwilling or unable to contribute to your schooling, your parents must supply their financial information for you to be eligible for student aid.
- If you are an independent student, you do not need to supply your parents' financial information on the FAFSA. In the eyes of the government, you are the only person responsible for your education costs.
So Do I Need my Parents' Information?
Many people assume that dependency status for student aid purposes is the same as that for income tax purposes. However, this is not true. The FAFSA uses different criteria.
To determine if you are dependent or independent for the purpose of student aid, visit FAFSA on the Web.
Want to Know More?
- Learn more about the FAFSA.
- If you are still unsure whether to apply as a dependent or independent student, contact the Financial Aid Office at the schools you are interested in applying to.