My parents are not able to pay for any of my college – nor are they claiming me on their tax returns. I file my own taxes as I also have a job. I completely support myself; my parents don’t give me any money. Does all of this together make me a FAFSA independent student? The short answer – unfortunately – is no.• They are married. • They have dependents. • They are working toward a master’s or doctorate program during the award year. • They are a veteran or active duty member of the US Armed Forces. • Since the time they turned 13, their parents were deceased, they were in foster care or they were a ward of the court. • They have been emancipated or someone other than a parent or stepparent has been appointed their legal guardian. • They are determined to be an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Full list of details for each of the above stipulations. If a student who is under age 24 doesn’t satisfy one of these criteria, the odds of being considered independent are very slim.In short, it doesn’t matter how financially independent a student is; if they don’t meet any of the above requirements, they are not considered independent for financial aid purposes. This is because, however it may look for each student, the federal government has decided that it’s the parents’ responsibility to pay for college. Dependency status for federal student aid purposes is not the same as dependency status for federal income tax purposes. Students who are dependent for federal student aid purposes must supply parent information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who are independent do not have to supply their parents’ information and often qualify for more student financial aid as a result.Based on data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), only 14.7% of undergraduate students under age 24 were independent in 2011-12. Of undergraduate students under age 24: • 8.3% were independent because they have legal dependents other than a spouse • 3.8% because they were married • 1.1% because they are orphans • 0.5% because they were veterans of the US Armed Forces • 0.3% because they were on active duty with the US Armed Forces • 0.9% because the college financial aid administrator granted a dependency override due to unusual circumstances. (Only 0.5% of all undergraduate students are independent because of a dependency override.) Colleges will not grant a dependency override because the parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education, file the FAFSA or complete verification, do not claim the student as a dependent on their federal income tax returns, or because the student is totally self-sufficient. None of these reasons, not even in combination, is sufficient justification for a dependency override.
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