I have received some inquiries about my previous blog: Four Bizarre things you did not know about the FAFSA.
What qualifies you as an Independent Student?
If one or any of the following apply to you, then you will be considered an Independent Student:
- You are enrolled in a Masters program, Doctorate Degree, or graduate Certification program
- age does not matter, if you are enrolled in any of these types of programs you are considered and independent student
- You have a child or children that are your legal dependent(s)
- you may have a family member etc. that is considered your dependent…he/she does not necessarily have to be a child
- You are married
- You are under the age of 24 and both of your parents are deceased
- You were a ward of your state until you were 18 years of age
- You are 24 years of age or older
- You are a Veteran of the United States Armed Force
- You were a foster child after the age of 13.
- You are an emancipated child as determined by a court judge.
- You are homeless or at risk of homelessness as determined by the director of a HUD approved homeless shelter, transitional program, or high school liaison.
Want more details, visit: FAFSA Online : Independent Students
The most important aspect of this is to remember that your school has the right to reassess certain circumstances, a process called professional judgment.
Some students have no contact with their parents, and therefore cannot use their tax information for filing the FAFSA. If you find yourself in this situation, you’ll need to go to your school’s financial aid office and ask them for help. Chances are, you’ll also need to bring plentiful documentation (rent, utilities, etc.) to prove that your situation is as you say it is. You’ll be asking for a professional judgment override on dependency status.
What this means is, if you’re under 24, in order to file as an independent, you must first go to your local courthouse and ask to appear before a judge to be ‘legally emancipated’ and apply as an independent student.
Update: We just wrote a pretty helpful blog about how people in situations like yours can get a FAFSA dependency change. For information on this, read Appealing Your FAFSA Dependency Status
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