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Dependency Status for Financial Aid Purposes


Financial aid regulations assume that the student and the parents have primary responsibility for meeting the educational costs of post-secondary education. The level of contribution is based on ability to pay, not on willingness to pay.

If a student can answer YES to at least ONE question in Step Three of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the student is considered "independent" for financial aid purposes, meaning no parent information is to be reported on the FAFSA. Additional verification or documentation of independent status may be required by the financial aid office. The Step Three questions on the FAFSA include:

  • Were you born before January 1, 19XX (making you 24 or older)?
  • Are you married as of day you file the FAFSA?
  • Are you working on a master's or doctorate program?
  • Are you currently active duty military personnel for other than training purposes?
  • Are you a veteran of the US Armed Forces?
  • Do you have children who receive more than half of their support from you?
  • Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and receive more than half of their support from you?
  • Are both of your parents deceased? Were you in foster care, or were you a ward of the court after age 13?
  • Are you an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
  • Do you have a legal guardian? This is not a biological parent, but someone who has been appointed by a court to serve as your guardian.
  • Did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
  • Did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
  • Did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?


What if your parents refuse to file the FAFSA with you or help pay for college expenses? Visit www.FinAid.org for a frank discussion on the subject.


Per federal regulations, a student may be considered independent if a financial aid administrator determines and documents the student's independent status based on unusual circumstances. Unusual circumstances are those circumstances, which, in the professional judgment of a financial aid administrator, warrant the student to be considered independent. Examples would include situations in which the student's parents are physically or mentally incapacitated.

If a student fails to meet the FAFSA criteria for independent student status and can document an irreconcilable break in relationship with each of their parents, they should discuss the situation with a financial aid counselor.


Although married students are considered independent, those that marry after filing the FAFSA can update their marital status to be considered independent. Purdue will accept marital status updates until mid-October for fall only or academic year enrollment and until mid-March for spring only enrollment. A copy of the marriage license and student and spouse federal tax returns will be required.