Q: How do I know if I qualify for independent status on the FAFSA, and what exactly does it mean to be an independent student?
A: “Independent Status” on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) means that youth do not have to provide any information, including income and asset information, about their biological, adoptive, or foster parents (including relative or non-relative caregivers) or legal guardians in the Parent Demographics section. This will mean that parental contribution is not added into a student’s contribution to determine his or her Estimated Financial Contribution (EFC), the index number that determines how much a student can pay for education and how much financial aid students receive.
If any of the below applies to students, then they qualify as independent students on the FAFSA:
- Was an orphan, foster child, or ward/dependent of the court at any time since the age of 13
- Age 24 or older at any time before December 31st of the award year
- Was determined at any time since July 1st of award year to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless
- Is married as of the date student applies
- Will be a graduate or professional student when the award year starts
- Is currently serving on active duty for purposes other than training
- Is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
- Has dependents other than a spouse
Citation: U.S Department of Education, Office of Federal Student Aid, 2018-2019 Application and Verification Guide https://ifap.ed.gov/fsahandbook/attachments/1819FSAHbkAVG.pdf