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Financial Aid Dependency Status

To apply for federal student loans or need-based federal and state aid, students must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Federal regulations require certain students to provide their parent's financial data and signatures on the FAFSA form. 

Independent Student Status

Independent students do not have to include their parent's financial information on their FAFSA. Please refer to our Dependency Status Checklist. This checklist does a great job of explaining which students need to provide parental data on the FAFSA, and which students are exempt from this requirement.

Note: All programs offered by AACC are considered undergraduate programs, including AACC Physician's Assistant Certificate program. No AACC student can achieve independent status based on the pursuit of a Graduate/Professional Degree Program (M.S., Ph.D. etc.).  

Dependent Student Status

If the FAFSA Dependency Status Checklist has told you that you must provide parent data, then you must provide parent data unless you are able to document unusual family circumstances. FAFSA regulations never require parents to help pay for education, but they often insist on considering their financial resources when evaluating your financial need. If you were most recently supported by legal guardians, relatives, or friends, you cannot list their data on your FAFSA. 

If you have unusual family circumstances that weren't already listed on the Dependency Status Checklist, then you must appeal to our office for Independent Status. Unusual family circumstances include but are not limited to:

  • A guardian has cared for you because your parents were unable to provide proper care, but your guardian was never declared a "legal guardian" by the court. 
  • Your parents were physically or emotionally abusive toward you or your siblings.
  • Your parents have substance abuse or other serious mental health problems.   
  • If you have other circumstances that you think might qualify, please discuss them with us.

Please note, we can't make students independent simply because their parents can't afford to help. The standard financial need formula already evaluates each family's financial resources and determines the family's ability to contribute toward the student's educational expenses. If the financial resources are low enough, the student will show high financial need. We also can't make students independent simply because their parents stop claiming them as tax exemptions or choose not to help pay for college.  

Dependency Appeals

If you think you might be eligible to appeal for independent status, please contact our office to discuss your situation. If we think you might qualify for an override, we will ask you to submit a Dependency Appeal form. Our policies and federal student privacy laws (FERPA) ensure that all your information will be kept strictly confidential. We will NOT contact your parents or share any information with them. 

How does Dependency Status Affect the Financial Need Formulas?

Please do not automatically assume that dependent students receive less aid. If your parents have high income or assets, you may show less financial need because of their resources, but some students show less financial need as independent students because the formula stops considering the cost of supporting your parents in the family household. If you have any questions about dependency status, please contact us.