Your dependency status determines whose information you must report on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
If you're a dependent student, you will report you and your parents' information.
If you're an independent student, you will report your own information (and, if you're married, your spouse's).
The federal student aid programs are based on the concept that it is primarily you and your family's responsibility to pay for your education. And because a dependent student is assumed to have the support of parents, the parents' information has to be assessed along with the student's, in order to get a full picture of the family's financial strength. If you're a dependent student, it doesn't mean your parents are required to pay anything toward your education; this is just a way of looking at everyone in a consistent manner.
Which parent's information should I report on the FAFSA?
If your legal (biological and/or adoptive) parents are married to each other, or are not married to each other and live together, you should report information about both of them on your FAFSA. However, we recognize that many situations are a little more complicated, so we've provided information on how to figure out which parent(s) should provide information on the FAFSA.
What if I don't live with my parents?
You still must answer the questions about your parents if you're considered a dependent student.
What if my parents aren't going to help me pay for college and refuse to provide information for my FAFSA?
You can't be considered independent of your parents just because they refuse to help you with this process. If you do not provide their information on the FAFSA, the application will be considered "rejected," and you might not be able to receive any federal student aid. The most you would be able to get (depending on what the financial aid office at your college decides) would be a loan called an unsubsidized loan. The FAFSA will tell you what to do if you are in this situation. Learn more about how to fill out the FAFSA when your parents aren't supporting you and won't provide their information.
What if I have no contact with my parents?
If you have no contact with your parents and don't know where they live, or you've left home due to an abusive situation, fill out the FAFSA and then immediately get in touch with the financial aid office at the college or career school you plan to attend. The financial aid staff will tell you what to do next. Learn more about how to fill out the FAFSA if you have special circumstances that prevent you from providing parent information.