Many students have questions about whether they are considered to be a dependent or independent student for financial aid purposes. This page is designed to answer some of those questions. In order to be considered independent for financial aid, a student must meet one the following requirements at the time of completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. From the 2015-2016 FAFSA, Step Three (Student):
- Were you born before January 1, 1992?
- As of today, are you married? (Also answer "Yes" if you are separated but not divorced.)
- At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, will you be working on a master's or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, graduate certificate, etc.)?
- Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
- Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
- Do you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016?
- 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, 2016?
- 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?
- 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 as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2014, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2014, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2014, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
A student who does not meet any of the conditions above will be considered a dependent student and will need to provide parent(s) information as requested when completing the FAFSA.
Please note: Filing personal taxes as an independent does not qualify a student as an independent student for purposes of financial aid.
Exceptions to the independent status requirements above are made on a case-by-case basis, and most require substantial documentation and/or extreme circumstances.
To appeal dependency status based on a special condition or circumstance, a student must contact the One Stop Student Services before completing the FAFSA. They will be required to complete a Dependency Appeal Form and will need to supply documentation from at least two third-party sources to support their dependency appeal. If a student was considered independent for aid purposes at a previous school, they do not automatically qualify for independent status at UMD.
Note: Refusal of a parent or stepparent to provide support is not considered an unusual circumstance for purposes of achieving independent status for financial; and being self-supporting, in and of itself, is not sufficient reason for a student to be granted independent status.
As of the 2009-2010 school year, there are new rules for students whose parents will not sign or provide tax information for the FAFSA, as well as for those students who do not receive any support from their parents and are not considered independent. Students can now apply with only their own tax information. They will be eligible only for an unsubsidized loan for a dependent student of their grade level; they will be ineligible for grants, scholarships, Ford Federal Direct Subsidized, SELF, or PLUS loans. Student will not be able to change this information after it is submitted, so they must be cautious when choosing this option. Students who select this option will be required to provide some additional paperwork.