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Dependency Status

Your dependency status determines whose information you must report on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form.

  • If you’re a dependent student, you will report your and your parents’ information.
  • If you’re an independent student, you will report your own information (and, if you’re married, your spouse’s).

The federal student aid programs are based on the concept that it is primarily your and your family’s responsibility to pay for your education. A dependent student is assumed to have the support of parents, so the parents’ information has to be assessed along with the student’s, in order to get a full picture of the family’s financial strength. If you’re a dependent student, it doesn’t mean your parents are required to pay anything toward your education; this is just a way of looking at everyone in a consistent manner.

Did you answer “Yes” to any of the questions?
If so, then for federal student aid purposes, you’re considered to be an independent student and don’t have to provide information about your parents on the FAFSA form.

Did you answer “No” to any of the questions?
If so, then for federal student aid purposes, you’re considered to be a dependent student, and you must provide information about your parents on the FAFSA form.

Not sure who counts as your parent? See the instructions on the FAFSA form or view the Who’s My Parent When I Fill Out My FAFSA®? graphic at StudentAid.gov/resources.


If you have no contact with your parents and don’t know where they live, you should discuss your situation with the financial aid office.

The financial aid administrator will help you figure out what to do next.
Apply for FREE and find more info: fafsa.gov.

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