The United States Department of Education considers a student dependent until the age of 24 except in certain circumstances. Not being claimed as a dependent upon a parent's tax return does not in and of itself indicate independent status. The only reasons you may be considered independent for financial aid purposes are:
- You were born before January 1, 1986 (for the 2009-10 academic year).
- You are enrolled in a graduate or professional program (beyond a bachelor's degree).
- You are married.
- You have children who receive more than half their support from you.
- You have dependents (other than children or a spouse) who live with you and receive more than half their support from you.
- You are an orphan or ward of the court (or were, until age 18); documentation is required.
- You are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.
- You are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training.
In rare cases, a financial aid officer can change a student's dependency status to independent. This process requires extensive documentation and consultation with the Director of Financial Aid.