For financial assistance, there are two classifications of students: Dependent and Independent. Your classification depends on how you answer the following questions:
- Are you or will you be 24 years old by December 31st of the current award year?
- At the beginning of the current 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. or graduate certificate, etc.)?
- As of today, are you married? (Answer “yes” if you are separated, but not divorced.)
- Do you have children who receive more than half of 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, now and through June 30th of the FAFSA award year?
- Are you a veteran or serving active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces?
- Are you in foster care, an orphan or a ward of the court, or were you in foster care or a ward of the court at any time since age 13?
- Are you, or were you, an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
- Are you, or were you, in legal guardianship (until age 18) as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
- Were you determined to be an unaccompanied youth at risk of homelessness or who was declared homeless by your school district homeless liaison or the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program?
- If you answer YES to any one of these questions, you are considered Independent and would answer only the student sections on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. (Note: you may be required to submit documentation of independent status.)
- If you answer NO to all of the above questions, you are considered DEPENDENT and must complete all student questions in addition to the parent sections on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
- If, due to special circumstances, you feel that you should be classified as Independent rather than Dependent, you should contact Big E Central for guidance.
NOTE: All Professional Judgment (PJ) is based on a case by case review of individual circumstances. All students have the right to appear before the PJ committee.