The FAFSA asks for detailed financial information for both yourself and your parents. It assumes that your parents will help you pay for college, even though this isn’t the case for every student. Unfortunately, most students are required to include their parents’ information whether their family is offering financial support or not. If your parents refuse to provide these details, there are a few options that you can explore.
Determine Whether You’re an Independent Student
If you’re classified as an independent student, you’re not required to provide your parents’ information on the FAFSA®. Establishing that you’re independent is the easiest way to maximize your FAFSA® benefits without information from your parents.
You may qualify as an independent student if:
You will be 24 years of age or older as of January 1 of the award year
You are married
You’re enrolling in a master’s or doctorate program
You are serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces
You’re a veteran of the U.S. armed forces
You have or will have children that receive over half of their financial support from you
You have dependents other than your children or spouse who get more than half of their financial support from you
Both of your parents are deceased
You have been in foster care or a dependent ward of the court at any time since you turned 13
You are an emancipated minor
Someone other than a parent or stepparent has legal guardianship of you
It has been determined that you are an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or at risk of being homeless
If you meet any of the above criteria, you will qualify as independent on the FAFSA® and will not be required to provide any of your parents’ financial information.
FAFSA® is now open for 2020, file in less than 5 minutes!
If you don’t meet the FAFSA®’s criteria to qualify as an independent student, you should talk to your school’s financial aid administrator. The administrator can provide a dependency override for students in certain situations. You may qualify for a dependency override if your parents are incapacitated, incarcerated, or their whereabouts are unknown. Students who have left home to escape an abusive situation may also qualify. Be prepared to provide documentation of the situation for an override.
Submit an Incomplete FAFSA®
If you are not independent, do not qualify for a dependency override, and cannot convince your parents to provide their information for the FAFSA®, you can file without it. It’s better to file a FAFSA® without your parents’ information than to skip the FAFSA® altogether. You may not qualify for the same aid you would have gotten with your parents’ finances included, but you should still do all you can to find out what your options are.
If you’re a dependent student, it’s best to do all you can to get your parents’ information for the FAFSA®. However, if this simply isn’t an option for you, there are other possibilities that you can explore. Don’t neglect the FAFSA®, no matter what your situation.
The above information is intended solely for general use. While every attempt has been made to ensure its accuracy, Frank makes no representations or warranties as to the validity or completeness of any information. Frank will not be responsible for any errors or omissions in this information, or for any losses or damages arising from its use. Please seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for personal financial advice.
We are not affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education. Federal Student Aid (FSA), an office of the U.S. Department of Education, makes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and assistance available to the public for free at fafsa.gov.