Maintained for Historical Purposes

This resource is being maintained for historical purposes only and is not currently applicable.

Section E -- "Student Status"

AwardYear: 1994-1995
Edition: PostSecondary
Part: 3 - - Filling Out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
SectionNumber:
SectionTitle: Section E -- "Student Status"

PageNumbers: 68-70


PURPOSE: THE QUESTIONS IN SECTION E DETERMINE
WHETHER THE STUDENT IS CONSIDERED A DEPENDENT
OR AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT UNDER THE LAW. THIS IS
OFTEN THE MOST IMPORTANT SECTION OF THE FAFSA
FOR PURPOSES OF NEED ANALYSIS. A STUDENT WHO
FILES AS AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT DOES NOT REPORT
PARENTAL INFORMATION ON THE FAFSA. THE
FINANCIAL AID ADMINISTRATOR MAY OVERRIDE THE
STUDENT'S DEPENDENCY STATUS IN INDIVIDUAL CASES
IF HE OR SHE DECIDES THAT THE STUDENT SHOULD BE
CONSIDERED INDEPENDENT, REGARDLESS OF THE
ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS IN SECTION E.


Independent Student Definition

A student is automatically considered independent if he or she meets
at least one of the following criteria:

- The student was born before January 1, 1971;

- The student is a veteran of the U. S. Armed Forces;

- The student is a graduate or professional student*9* in the
1994-95 award year;

- The student is legally married;

- Both of the student's parents are dead, or the student is a ward
of the court, and,

- The student has legal dependents other than a spouse.

The instructions explain each of these criteria in greater detail. A
student meeting one of these criteria is considered independent even
if the student is still living with his or her parents. However, note
that an incarcerated student is not considered a "ward of the court"
solely based on incarceration.

Definition of "Parent"

The term "parent" is not restricted to the student's natural parents.
There are several instances in which a person other than the
student's natural parents acts as the student's parent. If this person
is considered a parent to the student, then the parental questions on
the application must be answered as they apply to that person, in the
same ways they would be answered for a natural parent.

ADOPTIVE PARENT. Treated in the same manner as natural
parents.

FOSTER PARENT. Is not treated as a parent of the student.

LEGAL GUARDIAN. Is treated in the same manner as a natural
parent, if he or she has been appointed by the court and has been
specifically required by the court to use his or her financial
resources to support the student. This legal relationship must
continue after June 30, 1995. If the student is living with his or
her grandparents, the income of the grandparents cannot be
reported on the FAFSA unless the grandparents are court-
appointed legal guardians required by the court to use their
resources to support the student, or unless they have adopted the
student.

STEPPARENT. The stepparent's information is reported if the
stepparent is married to the student's natural parent (as of the
date of application) whose information will be reported on the
application, or if the student has been legally adopted by the
stepparent. If the natural parent has died and the stepparent
survives, then the student is independent (assuming the student
is not dependent on the surviving natural parent), unless the
stepparent legally adopted the student. Note that the
stepparent's income information from a prior year would be
reported even if the parent and stepparent were not married until
the next year.

In cases of death, separation, or divorce, the student must answer the
parental questions on the FAFSA as they apply to the surviving or
responsible parent.

DEATH OF PARENT. If one, but not both, of the student's
parents has died, the student would answer the parental
questions based on the surviving parent, and would not report
any financial information for the deceased parent on the
FAFSA. If both the student's parents are dead when the student
fills out the FAFSA, the student must answer "yes" to Question
49, making the student independent. If the last surviving parent
dies after the student fills out the application, the student must
file a Correction FAFSA.

DIVORCE OF PARENTS. When the student's parents have
divorced or separated, only one parent's financial information is
reported on the application. The rules for determining the
"responsible parent," based on residency and support, are
included in the application instructions.

SEPARATION OF PARENTS. If a separation has occurred, the
same rules as for a divorce should be used to determine which
parent's information must be reported. The separation need not
be a legal separation -- the student's parents may consider
themselves separated when one of the parents has left the
household for an indefinite period of time and no longer makes a
substantial contribution to the finances of the household.
However, if the parents still live in the same house, they would
not be considered to be separated, and information for both
parents must be reported.

COMMON LAW MARRIAGE. The financial aid administrator
should check with the appropriate state agency concerning
common law marriages. If the student's parents are living
together and have not been formally married, but meet the
criteria in their state for a common-law marriage, they should
report their status as married on the application. If the state
does not consider the situation to be a common-law marriage,
then the parents should file as separated.

After Section E, the form divides into parental information and
student/spouse information. An independent student is not required
to fill out parental information although health profession programs
may require the information.

*9* A graduate or professional student is one who 1) is enrolled in
a program or course of study above the baccalaureate level at a
school or is enrolled in a program leading to a first professional
degree 2) has completed at least three years of full-time study either
before entering the program or as part of the program and 3) is not
receiving student financial assistance as an undergraduate student
during this time.

Last Modified: 02/19/1998