I'm 19 and it's nearly time to fill out the FAFSA again.

Most of the time, until you're 24 (or is it 25?) you report your parents' income on the FAFSA.

However, my parents do not claim me as a dependent, I claim myself.

Would I still report my parents income or could I report mine? I work full time as a software developer so I do have something to report. If I report mine, I'll get more financial aid, but I really don't feel like going to jail over it.


1 Answer 1


When you fill out your FASFA section 3 You will be asked some or all of these questions:

  • Were you born before January 1, 1989?
  • As of today, are you married?
  • At the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, will you be working on a master's or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, or graduate certificate, etc.)?
  • Do you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013?
  • Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2013?
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
  • At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
  • As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?
  • As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you in legal guardianship?
  • On or after July 1, 2011, were you homeless or were you at risk of being homeless?

If you are unable to answer yes to at least one of these questions you will need a special circumstance to get a waiver.

However, Federal law allows for some exceptions, if you have a special circumstance. The following are examples of some special circumstances where you may submit your FAFSA without providing parental information:

Your parents are incarcerated; or You have left home due to an abusive family environment; or You do not know where your parents are and are unable to contact them (and you have not been adopted).

But not all situations are considered a special circumstance. The following are situations that would not be considered a special circumstance:

Your parents do not want to provide their information on your FAFSA; or Your parents refuse to contribute to your college expenses; or Your parents do not claim you as a dependent on their income taxes; or You do not live with your parents.

Source Your school will have to approve the special circumstance if you apply for one.

If you are not eligible for a special circumstance and can not provide parental income information then you will only be eligible for Unsubsidized loans.

This article from the NYTimes might be useful.

  • Thanks for your help. It's a very detailed answer, which I really appreciate. Looks like I'm going to have to run to Vegas this weekend...
    – nick
    Apr 5, 2012 at 16:55
  • One would think there would be some kind of income limit. Like if I make $x / year then I don't have to report my parents income.
    – nick
    Apr 5, 2012 at 16:57
  • @nick - How much money you make is not a determining factor for dependency status. I feel for you... My parents started with nothing and built themselves up to be quite successful. My father felt it would do me good to do the same. While that was true it definitely made it a not painless process.
    – user4127
    Apr 5, 2012 at 17:08
  • I would love to do it on my own, which I will but only because I can afford to pay at least 80% of the tuition in cash. At my last school, they were charging $30k / year and the government would only give me $5k / year in loans and made my parents take on the rest. It's my education, I should be the one paying for it, not my parents. But hey, since when has the government done things logically?
    – nick
    Apr 5, 2012 at 17:25
  • $30k / year at a school! Which univ. is it? Apr 5, 2012 at 19:12

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