Student aid programs operate under the idea that it is primarily the family’s responsibility to pay for a student’s education. The financial aid application attempts to measure the family’s financial strength, and then uses this information to determine the types of aid for which the student is eligible. For this reason, the application will ask for information from the applicant’s parents.
The financial aid application uses a series of dependency questions to determine whether or not a student is required to submit parental information. Students determined to be dependent must provide parental information, while students determined to be independent do not need to provide parental information.
In situations such as the ones below, you may be able to submit your FAFSA/CADAA form without parent information despite being considered a dependent student:
- Your parents are incarcerated.
- You have left home due to an abusive family environment.
- You do not know where your parents are and are unable to contact them (and you have not been adopted).
- You are older than 21 but not yet 24, are unaccompanied, and are either homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.
These circumstances must be documented by an objective third party (e.g., pastor, high school or college counselor, a social service agency official, etc.) in order to qualify for this professional judgment treatment.
None of the conditions listed below qualify as unusual circumstances:
- Parents refuse to contribute to the student's education
- Parents are unwilling to provide information on the application or for verification
- Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes.
- Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency
The Unusual Circumstance Appeal is located on the Student Forms website.