Independent Student Status

Learn the difference between dependent student and independent student status

On the federal FAFSA form, your parents or legal guardians will need to provide information on their finances, unless you have attained the status as an independent student, and can file for financial aid on your own.

But how can you determine if you are considered an independent student under the law? That's easy. You simply have to answer the following questions:

  • Are you married? (you should answer “yes” if you are separated but not divorced)
  • At the beginning of the next school year, will you be working on a master's or doctorate?
  • Are you either currently serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces for purposes other than training or a veteran of the armed forces?
  • Do you have children who will receive more than half their support from you?
  • 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?
  • At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a ward or dependent of the court?
  • Has it been decided by a court in your state of legal residence that you are an emancipated minor or that you are in a legal guardianship?
  • In the last year, have you been determined (by your high school or district homeless liaison or director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development) to be an unaccompanied homeless youth?
  • In the last year, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied homeless youth?

Your answers to the independent student status questions

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, for the purposes of federal student aid, you're considered an independent student. Which means you won't need to provide any information from your parents. Conversely, if you answered “no” to every question, then you are considered a dependent student, and your parents must file their financial information on the FAFSA form.

Learn more about the affordable Citizens Bank Student Loan® from Citizens Bank

Once you have your FAFSA results, consider using a private student loan, like our Student Loan®, to cover your remaining education expenses. Find helpful information about the affordable Citizens Bank Student Loan®. If you still have questions, call a student loan specialist at 1-800-708-6684, and we'll help walk you through the process.

Additional student loan and college planning resources

Continuing Education Student Loans
Understanding Your Credit Score and Borrowing for Graduate School
Guide to Paying for Graduate School
Types of Student Loans for Graduate Students
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