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How Do I Know If I Am a Dependent for My FAFSA Form?

Are you filling out the FAFSA form and being asked if you are a dependent of your parents? This is important to determining whether you need to include their income information on the form, so you should be sure that you answer this correctly. Hint: It matters not whether they declare you as their dependent on their tax return.

Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

If you want to find out if you are a dependent, just answer the following Yes or No questions. If any of the answers are “Yes,” then you are not a dependent. All of the answers must be “No” for you to be a dependent:

  • Are you over 23 years old (for the 2014 FAFSA, were you born before January 1, 1991)?
  • Are you married (this includes separated, but nor divorced)?
  • As of the fall semester, will you be working on a post-graduate degree?
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the military for purposes other than training? If you are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee, are you on active duty for other than state or training purposes?
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. military?
  • Do you now have—or will you have—children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1 of this year, and June 30 of next year?
  • Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30 of next year?
  • At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
  • Has it been determined by a court in your state of legal residence that you are an emancipated minor or that you are in a legal guardianship?
  • At any time on or after July 1 of last year, were you determined to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, as determined by (a) your high school or district homeless liaison, (b) the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or (c) the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program?

Wait; What About That Veteran Question?

In answering the question on whether you are a veteran of the U.S. Military, you need to consider your answer carefully. Answer “No” if you:

  • Have never engaged in active duty (including basic training) in the U.S. armed forces,
  • Are currently a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) student or a cadet or midshipman at a service academy,
  • Are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee activated only for state or training purposes,
  • Were engaged in active duty in the U.S. armed forces but released under dishonorable conditions, or
  • Are currently serving in the U.S. armed forces and will continue to serve through June 30, of next year.

Answer “Yes” if you:

  • Have engaged in active duty (including basic training) in the U.S. armed forces or are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee who was called to active duty for other than state or training purposes, or were a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies and
  • Were released under a condition other than dishonorable.
  • Are not a veteran now but will be one by June 30 of next year.

Am I Homeless?

As to the homeless question, if you do not have a determination that you are homeless, but you believe you are an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, answer “No” to the FAFSA questions concerning being homeless. Then contact your financial aid office to explain your situation.

The FAFSA form is key to your financial aid efforts. Be sure to fill it out accurately. Do not fall victim to common mistakes or myths about the form. You can get more information about these questions from the U.S. Department of Education site here.

More Information

If you are looking for more information about federal financial aid for college, then download my free book, Applying for Federal Financial Aid: The Definitive Guide for Students and Parents.

For more information about what happens after you graduate, get my free book, I Graduated; Now What? A Guide to Dealing with Your Student Loans.

You can also access the latest news on student loans, get answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and read articles in my Library. Continue to educate yourself as you go through the process of making smart decisions about college financing!

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