What determines 'Independent Student' status?

When considering what financial aid is available for a student, the U-M Office of Financial Aid staff must determine an applicant’s dependency status using information from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.  If you have a special situation involving your dependency status, call our office at 734-763-6600 or visit us at 515 E. Jefferson St., 2500 Student Activities Building, second floor, on Central Campus.

If parents do not claim a student on their taxes, the student is not considered independent for financial aid purposes. According to the U.S. Department of Education, a student is determined to be an independent financial aid applicant if meeting at least one of the following criteria:

  • Is 24 years or older as of January 1.
  • Is married or separated (but not divorced) as of the date of the application.
  • Will be enrolled in a master’s or doctoral degree program at the beginning of the school year.
  • Is serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, or is a National Guard or Reserves enlistee called into federal active duty for other than training purposes.
  • Is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Has one or more children who receive more than half of their support from the student.
  • Has dependent(s) (other than children or spouse) that live with the student and who receive more than half of their support from that student.
  • If both of the student’s parents were deceased, the student was in foster care, or the student was a dependent/ward of the court at any time when the student was age 13 or older.
  • Is now or was, upon reaching the age of majority, an emancipated minor as determined by a court in the student’s state of legal residence.
  • Is now or was upon reaching the age of majority, in legal guardianship as determined by a court in the student’s state of legal residence.
  • Was determined to be an unaccompanied homeless youth by a high school, school district homeless liaison or by the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Was determined by a director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program to be an unaccompanied homeless youth or was self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.
  • Is determined by the college financial aid administrator to be an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or is self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.

Note: Independent undergraduate students must complete FAFSA, but are not required to complete the CSS Financial Aid PROFILE. Contact us if you have further questions or need clarification of your status.

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