The basic premise of federal financial aid is that student and parent(s) have the primary obligation to finance postsecondary education to the extent they are able. Sterling College’s Financial Aid Office supports this premise and the current federal dependency definition. It is our policy to override the federal determination of dependence with extreme caution and only when it is clearly demonstrated and supported with third-party documents that an otherwise dependent student’s parent is no longer available to participate with the student in applying for federal assistance. The Financial Aid office under very specific reasons may override this requirement and make a dependent student an independent and not require the parent’s information.
For the 2017-2018 academic year, you are automatically independent for federal student aid if you meet one of the following criteria:
- You were born before January 1, 1994;
- You were married on or before the date you completed the FAFSA;
- You will be working on a master’s or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, or Ph.D., etc.) during the school year 2017-2018;
- You are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training;
- You are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces;
- You have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018;
- You have dependents (other than your children and spouse) who live with you and will receive more than half of their support from you, between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018;
- At any time since you turned 13, both your parents were deceased, you were in foster care or were a dependent/ward of the court;
- You are/were an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your legal state of residence immediately prior to that state’s recognized adult age;
- You are/were in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your legal state of residence immediately prior to that state’s recognized adult age;
- On or after July 1, 2016, your school district homeless liaison determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless;
- On or after July 1, 2016, the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless;
- On or after July 1, 2016, the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.
USE OF PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT: Federal regulations permit a financial aid officer to exercise professional judgment to give an otherwise dependent student independent status if unusual circumstances can be documented. This determination is made on a case-by-case basis, and must be supported by documentation provided by the student. Examples that would be considered for dependency override are 1) at risk for homelessness, 2) abandonment, 3) abuse, and 4) other situations of this nature.
Please contact the Financial Aid Office for more information and if you have any questions.