I am in the position of making enough money so that my daughter does not qualify for a Pell Grant. However, due to financial issues (primarily stemming from past medical expenses) I am not able to help as much as I would like.

I have taken a small Parent-Plus loan, but can easily see that growing to unwise proportions.

If I did not claim her as a dependent on next year's taxes, would she then be able to qualify for a Pell Grant, or is my income required on the form regardless of whether I claim her?

  • Did the medical expenses total more than 10% of your income? Their is a tax break for that. If your not already considering a technical college I would look into that as tuition can be around $1500 per semester for 4 classes or 12 credits. Scholarships and other grants should be looked at also.
    – cybernard
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 3:29
  • I recommend against taking out loans for your children or as a cosigner to loans for them. You're now "on the hook" for those loans. You should instead simply gift them the money to pay their own loan payments if you want to help out. The very small improvement in interest rates on such loans are not worth it. Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 15:45

1 Answer 1


For FAFSA purposes, your financial information is required regardless if you claim her or don't. In the federal government’s eyes, parents are responsible for their children’s’ education, regardless of whether or not the parents can actually pay.

The following are the only ways she can be a independent student and not include parental information on the FAFSA form:

Be 24 years of age or older by December 31 of the award year;

Be an orphan (both parents deceased), ward of the court, in foster care or was a ward of the court when 13 years or older;

Be a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States or serving on active duty for other than training purposes;

Be a graduate or professional student;

Be a married individual;

Have legal dependents other than a spouse;

Be an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship;

Be a homeless youth;

Be a student for whom a financial aid administrator makes a documented determination of independence by reason of other unusual circumstances.

I'm not sure what college she is attending, but there is no shame or harm in attending a community college first and then transferring. I did that and ended up saving a lot of money. After graduating, I am in a better place than some of my peers who went to a private 4 year college and graduated with debt.

  • 18
    I am extremely tempted to downvote for the unsolicited advice at the end. Yes, there should be no shame in such a maneuver, and yes, it is a way that can save a lot of money, and yes, there can be no harm in doing so. There can also be great harm in doing so. Transferring colleges is a very unreliable process, and it can be expensive, difficult, or outright impossible. I transferred and it cost me a lot of time (years’ worth) and a lot of money, and my education has weird holes as a result. It’s not a bad idea to consider, but it does have to be done with consideration.
    – KRyan
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 19:02
  • 1
    I grew up (well, 17-25) hating FAFSA because I was living independently yet they still considered my parents' income when calculating my eligibility, i.e. "none". Consequently I have no college degree because I didn't want to be saddled with the requisite debt. Stupid rule that probably does as much harm (people in my situation) as it does good (preventing fraud).
    – Doktor J
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 20:17
  • 6
    @KRyan We clearly disagree about the 'typical' transfer experience, as well as whether or not it's rude to suggest someone may be salty or have made mistakes (we're all salty about some things and have made mistakes, hardly a big deal). Anecdotes aren't super helpful, we don't know how many people regret going to community college, but we know that going and transferring is pretty widespread, so seems likely that the process for doing so would be pretty effective: insidehighered.com/news/2015/03/26/…
    – Hart CO
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 20:31
  • @MichaelC. About the separate conditions--would you mind putting the second one on a separate line (no matter what the source says)? It'll make it a little clearer. I would edit, but the edit will go into the queue.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 22:18
  • 2
    @HartCO "salty", really?
    – hobbs
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 6:13

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