Often unmarried students who are under the age of 24 are required to provide parental data on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). They are referred to as dependent students. However, dependent students with unusual circumstances may appeal to the Office of Financial Aid for a dependency override. A dependency override would allow the student to be considered an independent student (for federal student aid purposes only) and exempt the student from providing parental data on his/her FAFSA.
Dependency Status Questions on the 2015-16 FAFSA
If you can answer "Yes" to any of the questions below, you are considered an independent student when filing the FAFSA.
- Were you born before January 1, 1992?
- As of the date you filed the FAFSA, are you married?
- At the beginning of the 2105-16 school year, will you be working on a master's or doctorate program (such as an M.A., M.B.A., M.D., Ph.D., Ed.D., graduate certificate, etc.)?
- Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces for purposes other than training? (If you are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee, are you on active duty for other than state or training purposes?)
- Are you a veteran of the U.S. armed forces?*
- Do you now have-or will you have-children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016?
- Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2016?
- 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?
- Has it been determined by a court in your state of legal residence that you are an emancipated minor or that you are in a legal guardianship?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2014, were you determined to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, as determined by (a) your high school or district homeless liaison, (b) the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or (c) the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program?**
*Answer No (you are not a veteran) if you (1) have never engaged in active duty (including basic training) in the U.S. armed forces, (2) are currently a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) student or a cadet or midshipman at a service academy, (3) are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee activated only for state or training purposes, or (4) were engaged in active duty in the U.S. armed forces but released under dishonorable conditions. Also answer No if you are currently serving in the U.S. armed forces and will continue to serve through June 30, 2016.
Answer Yes (you are a veteran) if you (1) have engaged in active duty (including basic training) in the U.S. armed forces or are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee who was called to active duty for other than state or training purposes, or were a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies and (2) were released under a condition other than dishonorable. Also answer Yes if you are not a veteran now but will be one by June 30, 2016.
**If you do not have a determination that you are homeless, but you believe you are an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, answer “No” to the FAFSA questions concerning being homeless. Then contact Raider Connect to explain your situation.
Dependency Override Policy
Annually, and on a case-by-case basis, the Office of Financial Aid may permit a dependency override for otherwise dependent students with unusual circumstances.
Conditions which qualify for dependency override include students, under the age of 24, who cannot rely on parental support from either parent because each parent meets one of the following criteria:
- Parent is deceased.
- Parent is incarcerated.
- Unusual parental circumstances (e.g., parent’s whereabouts are unknown, abusive family environment, abandonment by parent, etc.).
Students who are unaccompanied youth and are homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless are encouraged to complete the Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Verification process, instead of the Dependency Status Appeal process.
Conditions, singly or in combination, which do not qualify for dependency override include:
- Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education.
- Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification.
- Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes.
- Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.
How to Appeal Dependency Status
Students must complete and return the Dependency Status Appeal Form and supporting documentation to Raider Connect. Appeals will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and all information will be kept confidential. The submission of an appeal does not guarantee appeal approval.
Upon receipt of a Dependency Status Appeal Form, the Office of Financial Aid will review the student’s circumstance and supporting documentation. Students with unusual circumstances that qualify for a dependency override will be deemed an independent student for the aid year.
Approved appeals will also be required to complete the FAFSA verification process, and additional documentation may be requested.
Students are required to submit supporting documentation with their appeal. The supporting documentation will vary depending on the student’s unusual circumstances. Students must provide documentation for each parent. For the conditions which qualify for dependency override, the following items are requested:
Parent is deceased
A copy of the parent’s death certificate
Parent is incarcerated
Documentation that verifies the parent is incarcerated and lists the parent’s anticipated release date
Unusual parental circumstances
A signed statement from a third-party professional that knows the student’s unusual parental circumstances
Signed statements from third-party professionals must document the student’s unusual circumstances as they relate to the parent in question. If a written statement is required for both parents, one written statement from a third-party professional that documents the student’s unusual circumstances as they relate to both parents is acceptable.
Examples of third-party professionals that the student has a professional relationship with include teachers, counselors, medical authorities, members of clergy, social workers, etc. Signed statements from third-party professionals should be submitted on company-issued letterhead and include appropriate contact information. The Office of Financial Aid reserves the right to contact third-party professionals who provide supporting documentation.
A student who is unable to provide the supporting documentation requested above, should contact Raider Connect to discuss his/her circumstance to determine if other forms of documentation can be considered.
FAFSA Filing Instructions
Students must file their FAFSA and list Wright State University (school code 003078) as a school of choice. Students are encouraged to file online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. When filing your FAFSA online, if you indicate "No" to all of the "Dependency Determination" questions, your "Dependency Status Results" will state you are considered a dependent student.
If you have a special circumstance, you should select "I am unable to provide parental information". Under "Special Circumstances", select "I have a special circumstance and I am unable to provide parental information". Next, select "I am unable to provide parental information and acknowledge that my FAFSA will be submitted without calculating an EFC".
- Unaccompanied—when a student is not living in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.
- Homeless—lacking fixed, regular, and adequate housing. For example, temporarily living with other people because he/she has nowhere else to go; living in substandard housing; living in emergency or transitional shelters (FEMA trailers after disasters); living in motels, camping grounds, cars, parks, abandoned buildings, bus or train stations, or any public place not designed for humans to live; or living in the school dormitory if the student would otherwise be homeless.
- Self-supporting—when a student pays for his/her own living expenses, including, fixed, regular, and adequate housing.
- At risk of being homeless—when a student’s housing may cease to be fixed, regular, and adequate, for example, a student who is being evicted and has been unable to find fixed, regular, and adequate housing.
- Fixed housing—stationary, permanent, and not subject to change.
- Regular housing—used on a predictable, routine, or consistent basis.
- Adequate housing—sufficient for meeting both the physical and psychological needs typically met in the home.
- Parent—a student’s biological or adoptive parent. A student’s stepparent, foster parent or legal guardian is not considered a parent unless they have adopted the student.
- Youth—a student who is 21 years old or younger or still enrolled in high school as of the date he/she signs the FAFSA.
Renewal of Dependency Override
Dependency overrides for students with unusual circumstances occur on an annual basis. Otherwise dependent students with unusual circumstances who received a dependency override in a prior aid year may renew their dependency override for a subsequent aid year, provided their unusual circumstances have not changed, by completing and returning the Renewal of Dependency Status Appeal Form to Raider Connect. Upon receipt of a Renewal of Dependency Status Appeal form, the Office of Financial Aid will verify that the student has affirmed that his/her unusual circumstances persist and permit a dependency override for the new aid year.