Other Issues (Students Who are not Dependent With FAQs)

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The non-dependency increases the chances of getting higher financial aid, as the students have limited income and resources. Hence, the aid package will increase.

What are the conditions that determine the non-dependency of a student?

Applicable for the year 2015-2016

  • You have to be born before January 1-1990.
  • If- you are serving the US Armed Forces for purposes other than training.
  • If- you lost both your parents at the age of 13 or older.
  • If- you are dependent on court -until the age of 18.
  • You have children who will be dependent on you (receiving more than half of support) from July 1-2015 to June 30-2016.
  • You have other dependents who will continue to depend on you till June 30-2016.
  • You have other dependents who will continue to depend on you till June 30-2016.
  • You are married.
  • You are an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship.
  • During July 1-2014 – The school district homeless liaison or your high school determines you as a youth who is homeless and unaccompanied.
  • If, the director of an emergency shelter program funded by HUD determines that you are an unaccompanied and homeless youth.
  • If – you are determined as a homeless youth by the director of a homeless youth basic center.
  • The schools can have their own set of rules to determine your non dependency. Most private schools regard a student as dependent – if, the student is under 22 years of age, and his/her both the parents are alive.

The rules mentioned above are the federal definition of independence. However, the school might use different methods to determine whether you are dependent or independent.

“I don’t meet any of the rules that determine the independent status, but I have special circumstances”

Suppose, you don’t meet any of the rules, but your circumstances are special, then you need to convince the school with relevant documents. This will enable the Financial Admission Officer to grant you an independent status.

  • The special circumstances will require documentation-


A student abandoned by parents will need a letter from the social service agency, along with the court papers.

What if I meet the federal requirements, but fail to match with the requirement of the school?

If, you fulfil the federal requirements, then you can qualify for Pell Grants, Stafford loans and some of the state aid – irrespective of the requirement of the school.

However, the school will take your dependency status, and the assets of your parents into account, and grant its own money basing on its own set of rules.

What are the rules for the independent candidates in a graduate school?

The graduate schools offer more flexibility, as the students are not regarded as minors. Irrespective of your status (independent/dependent) – almost all students will qualify for the federal aid. You will have a higher borrowing limit – if you apply for the Stafford loans (up to $20,500/year). Along with that, you can borrow additional money in the form of Grad PLUS loans.


When should I consider establishing residency in a state and why?

If, you are tight on budget and want to get into a public university – you can consider establishing residency in a particular state. This will save you a lot of dollars, as the difference of the cost of education between instate and out-of-state is $15,000.

Surprisingly, it comes with a distinct disadvantage- You will not be eligible for the additional state grant, that is available for the out-of-state students.

However, the money that is granted by the additional state grant is $4,000/year, and you can save a lot more by establishing residency in the particular state.

The state residency requirements vary from one state to another. It can be really tough to establish residency in a particular state.


In Michigan – in order to qualify as an instate resident, your parents should have a primary residence in the state, and must pay regular taxes.


  • You should do a detailed research on the residency requirements of various state-universities. You should write to them inquiring about the different rules.
  • If you have your parents living in different states, then you must consider one parent with whom you should spend the base income year.
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