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Section D "Student Status"

AwardYear: 1997-1998
Edition: PostSecondary
Part: 3 - - Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
SectionTitle: Section D "Student Status"

PageNumbers: 62-64

Section D "Student Status"

Purpose: The questions in Section D determine whether a student
is considered a dependent student or an independent student under
the law for purposes of calculating an EFC. This section is important
in determining a student's EFC under the federal need analysis
formula. An independent student does not report parental
information on the FAFSA. A student's income and assets are always
included in the EFC calculation. A financial aid administrator may
override a student's dependency status in individual cases if he or she
decides that a student should be considered an independent student,
regardless of the answers to the questions in Section D.
Independent student definition

Questions 40-45 ask a student whether he or she meets any of the
criteria that would establish him or her as an independent student. 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, 1974;

- the student is a veteran of the U. S. Armed Forces (Army, Air
Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard);

- the student will be enrolled in a graduate or professional program
(beyond a bachelor's degree) in 1997-98;

- the student is legally married on the date the student signs the

- the student is an orphan or a ward of the court (or has been a ward
of the court until reaching the age of 18); or

- the student has legal dependents other than a spouse.

Please note that students who answer "yes" to question 42 (Will you
be enrolled in a graduate or professional program...?
) are not eligible
for Federal Pell Grants. If a student incorrectly reports yes to
question 42, he or she must submit a correction in order to be
eligible for a Federal Pell Grant.

The instructions explain each criterion in greater detail. The student
should read these instructions carefully, because
they define some of the terms used, such as "veteran," "legally
married," "orphan," and "legal dependent." Note in particular that the
definition of veteran now includes students who attended one of the
service academies and were released under a condition other than
dishonorable. A student answering "yes" to any question in Section
D will be classified as an independent student, even if the student is
still living with his or her parents.

After Section D, the form asks for parental information and
student/spouse information separately. An independent student is not
required to provide any parental information.

A dependent student provides information about himself or herself in
the white areas and about his or her parents in the green
. The dependent student and at least one parent must sign the

An independent student gives information only about himself or
herself and about his or her spouse (if married) by filling out the
white areas and gray areas. The student must sign the
Definition of "parent"

The term "parent" is not restricted to a student's biological parents.
There are several instances in which a person other than a student's
biological parent is treated as the student's parent. If this person is
considered a parent to the student, as defined by the list that follows,
then the parental questions on the application must be answered as
they apply to that person.

Adoptive Parent--is treated in the same manner as biological

Foster Parent--is not treated as a student's parent.

Legal Guardian--is treated in the same manner as a
biological parent, if he or she has been appointed by the court
AND if he or she has been directed by the court to use his or her
financial resources to support the student. This legal relationship
must continue beyond June 30, 1998. If a student is living with his
or her grandparents, the same principle applies. Unless the
grandparents have adopted the student or are the student's court-
appointed legal guardians and are required by the court to use their
resources to support the student, the income of the grandparents
should not be reported on the FAFSA.

Stepparent--is treated in the same manner as a biological
parent if the stepparent is married, as of the date of application, to
a student's biological parent whose information will be reported on
the FAFSA or if the student has been legally adopted by the
stepparent. There are no exceptions. The federal need
analysis system does not recognize prenuptial agreements. If the
biological parent has died and the stepparent survives, then the
student is independent (assuming the student is not dependent on
the surviving biological parent), unless the stepparent legally
adopted or is the legal guardian of the student. Note that the
stepparent's income information for the entire base year, 1996,
must be reported even if the parent and stepparent were not
married until after 1996.

In cases of death, separation, or divorce, a student must answer
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 will answer the parental questions on
the basis of the surviving parent and will 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 44, making the student
independent. If the last surviving parent dies after the FAFSA has
been filed, the student must use the Student Aid Report (SAR) to
update his or her dependency status and all other information as

Divorce of Parents. If the student's parents are divorced or
separated, the student should report the information of only one
parent, the parent with whom he or she lived the longest time
during the past year. It does not make a difference who claims
the student as an exemption for tax purposes.
If the student
did not live with either parent or lived equally with each parent,
then the parental information must be provided for the parent from
whom the student received the most financial support or the parent
from whom the student received the most support the last time support
was given.

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
separated, and information for both parents must be reported.

Common-Law Marriage. 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 the FAFSA as if they are separated. Check with the
appropriate state agency concerning the definition of a common-
law marriage.

Last Modified: 08/23/1998