There is a lot of confusion among students regarding their dependent/independent status while filling the FAFSA form. To be considered as an independent student it is important to meet at least one of the several criteria given by the government. These include being a graduate, being enrolled in a Masters Program, Doctorate Degree, or graduate Certification program, being an orphan or a ward of the court until the age of 18, being married or having a legal dependent other than a spouse or being 24 or more years of age. While these are a few pre-requisites, your situation can be reassessed by your school or college if you feel that you are funding your own education and therefore, should deserve an independent status. Dependent students benefit from the financial support of their parents and as a result, their financial aid may not be as high as that of an independent student.
It is not easy for dependent students to change their status. The process is often long-winding and the results are usually not in favor of the students unless a drastic change has occurred. The student has to fill up a Dependency Review Form with proper documentation and proof that s/he is no longer depending on parental aid. The case will be forwarded to a specific review committee especially appointed for the task.
Since there is a lot of confusion regarding a student’s status, it is best advised to consult with the school authorities before submitting the FAFSA. For those filing as an independent, a lot of documents will be needed to submit as proof so the student needs to make sure there is no backtracking or else, the form will be nullified. So it is better to keep things simple and straightforward or else, you may not be able to get any kind of financial aid. Remember to reconfirm your status with your school if you have any doubts.