Not all students clearly fit into the predetermined financial aid status definitions of Dependent or Independent. The majority of high school seniors answer “No” to all of the dependency status questions (see Table 2 below), thereby being classified as DEPENDENT, requiring them to provide parent information on the FAFSA/CADAA. Many of these “dependent” students, however, are not able to provide parental financial information for a variety of reasons. If a student has what is determined to be an “approved” special circumstance, they may be granted what is known as a Dependency Override.
A Dependency Override means that the student will be considered INDEPENDENT for financial aid consideration and will not have to provide parental information on the FAFSA/CADAA to receive federal and state aid programs for which they may qualify.
Table 1 below shows examples of what may or may not warrant a Dependency Override. Students should review this table and meet with their School Counselor prior to contacting the college financial aid office. If a student is in a situation in which a Dependency Override may be granted, they should begin the request process as soon as possible.
Table 1. Reason Dependency may or may not be Overridden
What conditions MAY warrant a Dependency Override?
What conditions DO NOT warrant a Dependency Override?
Dependency Override Process:
- Submit FAFSA or CADAA
- Once student has received financial aid offer from college, contact the financial aid office.
- Follow the Dependency Override request process for that college, including submitting supporting documentation.
- The process can be complicated and lengthy so students should only go through the process with schools they have been admitted to and are considering attending.
- Each request for a Dependency Override is reviewed and granted on a case-by-case basis.
Bridging Tip: Students who may warrant a Dependency Override should be identified early in the financial aid application process. These students will need to gather supporting documentation of their special circumstance (i.e., appeal form, policy report, or court records) which may be difficult to obtain and/or take a significant amount of time to receive. In many cases, the School Counselor will also need to provide a third-party statement confirming knowledge of the situation.
Table 2. Dependency Status Questions 2021–2022
Were you born before Jan. 1, 1998?
As of today, are you married? (Also answer “Yes” if you are separated but not divorced.)
At the beginning of the 2021–22 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program (such as an M.A., MBA, M.D., J.D., Ph.D., Ed.D., graduate certificate, etc.)?
Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces 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. armed forces?
Do you now have—or will you have—children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022 [during the award 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, 2022?
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 someone other than your parent or stepparent has legal guardianship of you? (You also should answer “Yes” if you are now an adult but were in legal guardianship or were an emancipated minor immediately before you reached the age of being an adult in your state. Answer “No” if the court papers say “custody” rather than “guardianship.”)
At any time on or after July 1, 2020, 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?