Will my daughter's chances for receiving financial aid be higher if
we don't claim her on our taxes? Household income is about $85,000 and
she did not qualify for financial aid through the FAFSA. She is in a
community college and is 20 years old. She recently moved out of our
home but we are paying her college tuition. She has not received any
— Danielle V.
It does not matter whether you claim your daughter on your income tax
returns or not; it will not affect her eligibility for federal student
aid. The IRS and the US Department of Education use different
definitions of dependency. The IRS definition is based on support. The
US Department of Education definition is based on the student's age,
marital status and other qualitative factors. Unless your daughter
gets married, has dependents other than a spouse or joins the
military, she will continue to be considered a dependent student for
federal student aid purposes until she becomes 24 years old.
Don't forget to claim the Hope Scholarship tax credit (also known as
the American Opportunity tax credit) on your federal income tax return
based on amounts you paid for her tuition, fees and course materials.
I recently moved away from home. I'm working a part time job and am
enrolled in college as a full time student. My mother is not really
supporting me on going to school and our relationship isn't good. I
moved out of her home and receive no help from her or my father. I'm
living with a friend now and pay rent. When I apply next year for
financial aid do I file as dependent or independent?
— Andrew A.
Ask the financial aid administrator at your college for a dependency
override. Bring copies of letters from social workers, clergy and
other people familiar with your situation.
Colleges cannot grant a dependency override merely because the parents
refuse to contribute to the student's college costs or to complete the
FAFSA or verification. The student's self-sufficiency also isn't
sufficient grounds for a dependency override.
But sometimes there are circumstances underlying the parental refusal
to help that can support a request for dependency override. For
example, colleges can grant a dependency override if there is a
hostile or abusive family environment that would make it unsafe for
the student to have further contact with his parents.
If a student doesn't qualify for a dependency override, but the
parents have cut off all financial support and refuse to complete the
FAFSA, the most a college financial aid administrator can do is allow
the student to borrow from the unsubsidized Stafford loan program.
I am currently a college freshman. I am 18 years of age and I moved
out of my home in June. I currently pay rent among my other car, phone
and living expenses. I rent a room from a family in my city, work 30
hours a week and have 5 classes on my schedule. Is there ANY financial
aid or help I can get from anywhere? I've been told that its not
possible and I find it rather upsetting that a self-supporting 18 year
old student cannot get financial aid when they need it most,
considering their other financial responsibilities.
— Madison B.
A student's financial self-sufficiency is not enough for the student
to qualify for a dependency override. Until you reach age 24, you are
considered to be a dependent student and your parents must complete
the FAFSA. If you have a good relationship with your parents, ask them
to complete the FAFSA. Tell them that it does not obligate them to pay
for your college education, but will enable you to get financial aid
such as student loans and grants.
I lost my job about one year ago. I live in my parents house with
my fiance and two kids. My fiance works full time and I am collecting
unemployment. My parents both work full-time but are not financially
responsible for me. Does the fact that my family and I live with my
parents affect the amount of FAFSA received? And also does my fiance's
pay affect my FAFSA as well?
— Carolina V.
The word "fiance" is used when a couple is unmarried. This is in
contrast with the words "spouse", "husband" and "wife", which indicate
that the couple is married.
If you were married, you would be automatically independent and your
living arrangement would not affect your eligibility for federal
student aid. Likewise, if you are over age 24 you will be considered
to be an independent student.
Assuming that neither is the case, your dependency status is based on
whether you support a dependent other than a spouse. If you provide
more support to your children than your parents, you are considered to
have a dependent other than a spouse. Any support you receive from
your fiance and from government benefit programs counts as part of
your support to the children. But the support you provide must exceed
the support your parents provide, which includes the fair rental value
of the housing they provide for your children. You will need to do the
math to see if you and your fiance are providing more support to your
children than your parents. If you provide more support to the
children, you are considered independent.
If you are independent, your parents' information is not reported on
your FAFSA. If you were married, your spouse's financial information
would be reported on the FAFSA. Since you are not married, your fiance's
income is not reported on the FAFSA. But any support provided by your
fiance or your parents to you or your children must be reported as
untaxed income on the FAFSA.
Will having my daughter claimed as a dependent on my parents' tax
return affect my student loan/financial aid? I had no income
and put head of household on my financial aid application. I applied
for financial aid by myself and my daughter lives with my
mother while I attend school.
— Kenneth M.
If your daughter is claimed on your parents' income tax return, it
means that your parents are providing more than half of her
support. (There are some slight technical differences in the
definitions of support used by the IRS and the US Department of
Education, but they are usually not manifest in a situation where the
student's child is claimed on someone else's income tax return.) If
having a dependent other than a spouse was your only basis for
independent student status, then you will be considered a dependent
student and your parents will have to provide their financial
information on your FAFSA. If your FAFSA is selected for verification,
the college will question your head of household status, given that
you have no income and do not have a qualifying child.
My 18-year-old brother is now under my care. I am 25 years old and
I work full time and I am also going to school full time. My mother
decided to move and left my brother without any financial
assistance. He is a sophomore at a community college. I do not have a
clue where to begin or what to do for him to get any financial
assistance. I do not know if I am supposed to claim him in order for
the FAFSA to help him out. If so, how do I start?
— Andrea A.
Talk to the financial aid office at your brother's college about your
situation. Abandonment is sufficient grounds for a dependency
override, but the college will want independent third party
documentation of your family's circumstances. Abandonment is defined
as a lack of significant contact or support for an extended period of
time, usually at least a year. If the college grants him a dependency
override, he will be able to file the FAFSA on his own. Any support
you provide him will then be reported as untaxed income to him on the