Independent or Dependent Status
Determining whether you are Independent or Dependent for financial aid purposes can sometimes be confusing. The FAFSA determines dependency status in order to calculate your eligibility for aid. You may consider yourself Independent. However, according to federal regulations, if you do not meet one of the following criteria, you must file as a Dependent student and report parental income and assets as well as your own. To be considered INDEPENDENT, a Butte College student must meet a minimum of one of the following criteria for the school year for which they are applying for financial aid:
Dependency Status Items
EXPLANATIONS FOR ANSWERING ITEMS ACCURATELY
Answer "Yes" if you were born before January 1, 1991. To be considered Independent, student must be 24 years of age as of December 31 of the year for which you are requesting aid (e.g.: Dec 31, 2014 for 14-15 academic year).
Answer this as of the day you submit the FAFSA. You are considered "married" if you are married as of the day you submit the FAFSA. Also, answer "Yes" if you are separated but not divorced
For Butte College, answer "No." Butte does not offer master's or doctorate programs.
Answer "Yes" IF:
• You are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, or are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee who is on active duty for other than state or training purposes; OR
Answer "Yes" IF:
• You have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1 and June 30 of the school year for which you are applying for financial aid; OR
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Answer "Yes" IF:
• 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?; OR
Answer "Yes" IF
• At any time on or before July 1 of the school year for which you are applying, was it determined by an official agency that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless? Official agencies are defined by the FAFSA as follows:
Definition of Terms Used to Determine Homelessness
Youth - means someone who is 21 years of age or younger or is still enrolled in high school as of the day they signed the FAFSA.
Unaccompanied - means someone who is not living in the physical custody of their parent or guardian.
Homeless - means lacking fixed, regular and adequate housing, which includes living in shelters, motels, or cars, or temporarily living with other people because of nowhere else to go.
"If You Have a Child": Clarification about Dependents
The Department of Education regulations are very specific as to who qualifies for independent status.
Giving birth to or fathering a child does not by itself make a student eligible for independent status for financial aid needs analysis. The regulation states that the student must provide a minimum of 50% of support for the child. The FAFSA question asks "Do you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you during the award year July 1 through June 30?"
The federal processor may require verification for child support paid.
What Is a Dependency Status Override?
Sometimes the answers to the Dependency Status questions on the FAFSA determine that a student is Dependent and must provide parental information even though their living situation does not allow them to do so.
A Dependency Override is an action determined by the Financial Aid Office through a Dependency Status Appeal, on a case-by-case basis for students with documented unusual circumstances comprising an "adverse home situation." An adverse home situation may include physical abuse, alcohol or drug abuse in the household, neglect or a dysfunctional home environment. Documentation of such adversity must accompany the appeal. Documentation may include letters from social workers, high school counselors/teachers, adult family members, Child Protective Services, Juvenile Probation, etc.
The following situations are not considered "unusual" and cannot be used as a basis for a Dependency Override:
- The student living on their own or having adequate resources of their own to be considered self-supporting.
- Parents refusing to contribute to their student's education or refusing to provide information on the FAFSA.
- The student not being claimed by either parent for several tax years prior to the year of application.
Federal regulations do not permit the use of professional judgment by financial aid offices to make exceptions in these situations.
Dependency Status Appeal
A copy of the Dependency Status Appeal is available here. If you fit the criteria for a Dependency Status Appeal, follow the instructions on the form for submitting the FAFSA. Then complete all appeal instructions and provide all requested information:
- Download and complete the Dependency Status Appeal form
- Attach a signed, typed statement that clearly and fully describes the adverse situation that makes you independent
- Provide documentation for how you supported yourself or survived
- Attach two signed and dated, typed statements from credible sources who have knowledge of your adverse family situation.
- Make an appointment with the Financial Aid Office and bring with you all the above items.
Incomplete appeals will not be reviewed.