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    What Is the FAFSA Dependency Override? Everything You Need to Know

    By Cece Gilmore

    Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Posted: May 7th, 2024
    What Is the FAFSA Dependency Override? Everything You Need to Know

    When filling out the FAFSA you are either a dependent or independent student which determines if your parent’s income will be used in the calculation of your Student Aid Index (SAI) or amount of financial aid they will grant you. There are situations in which students can request a dependency override in order to be considered as an independent student. Keep reading to learn more about the FAFSA dependency override! 

    Dependent vs Independent on the FAFSA

    A dependent student is assumed to have the support financially of their parents which means their parent’s financial information will be assessed alongside their financial information on the FAFSA to create an idea of how much federal aid they will need. Typically, most high school students qualify as dependent students. 

    To qualify as an independent student for the FAFSA, you must meet one of the following criteria: 

    • Born before Jan. 1, 2001
    • Married (and not separated) 
    • A graduate or professional student 
    • A veteran
    • A member of the U.S. armed forces
    • An orphan
    • A ward of the court
    • A current or former foster youth
    • In a legal guardianship (now or in the past) 
    • Someone with legal dependents other than a spouse
    • An emancipated minor
    • Unaccompanied and homeless or at risk of becoming homeless

    What is a FAFSA dependency override? 

    The FAFSA dependency override is used for unusual circumstances in which you cannot provide your parent information on the FAFSA. If you are approved for a dependency override, it allows you to exclude your parent’s financial information from the FAFSA even if you typically would be considered a dependent student. Doing so can qualify you for a significantly greater amount of federal financial aid. 

    Who qualifies for a FAFSA dependency override? 

    The requirements to qualify for a FAFSA dependency override include: 

    • Your parents are incarcerated
    • You left home due to an abusive family environment
    • You don’t know where your parents are (and you have not been adopted) 
    • You’re experiencing homelessness or at risk of experiencing homelessness and are between the ages of 21 and 24 

    How do you get a FAFSA dependency override? 

    Every college and university have their own requirements and steps for obtaining a dependency override. So, you should have a good understanding of where you want to go before going through the dependency override process. 

    To begin, you should fill out and submit the FAFSA as usual. However, you will skip the steps where a parent’s financial information is needed. Once the FAFSA has been submitted, you must then contact your school’s financial aid office to begin applying for a dependency override. 

    Although each school has its own requirements, typically they will need documentation and proof that you qualify for a dependency override. Here are just a few examples of some documentation that a school may require you to have: 

    • Jail records
    • Police reports
    • Homeless shelters 
    • Court records
    • Child welfare records
    • Signed statements from professionals 

    Frequently asked questions about the FAFSA dependency override

    Can I get a dependency override if my parents refuse to provide their information on the FAFSA?

    Sadly no. You cannot be considered an independent student just because your parents do not want to fill out the FAFSA. Unfortunately, if you do not provide their information on the FAFSA then your FAFSA form will be rejected and you may not be able to receive any aid.

    Is there a deadline for requesting a dependency override?

    Every college may have a different deadline, so it is best to request a dependency override as soon as possible.

    How long does a dependency override take?

    A dependency override review typically takes between 3 to 4 weeks from the date when the necessary documentation has been received.

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