Definitions

Regular Student

A regular student is one who is enrolled or accepted for enrollment at an institution for the purpose of obtaining a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential offered by the institution.  Generally, to receive financial aid from federal programs you must be a regular student.  Students who have not completed all Admissions requirements are admitted provisionally and are not considered a regular student until all requirements are met. Provisionally admitted students are NOT eligible for Title IV aid.

Eligible Program

An eligible program is a course of study that leads to a degree or certificate and meets the U.S. Department of Education's requirements for an eligible program. (TCA’s are not approved programs). You must be enrolled in an eligible program in order to receive Title IV aid. A list of eligible programs is available in the Financial Aid Office.

Are You a Dependent or an Independent Student?

The independent student definition created by Congress is strict and is considered controversial by many students and parents. However, Federal regulations related to the classification of a student's dependency status for financial aid must be followed by school financial aid administrators in determining one's eligibility for federal and state aid funds. Whether a student lives in his own home or apartment and/or claims himself as an exemption on his federal income tax return has nothing to do with a student being considered independent for financial aid purposes.

The only way a student can become independent for financial aid purposes (which means the custodial parents' income and asset information are not required on the FAFSA) is if the student meets at least one of the following guidelines.

2008-2009 Guidelines

The independent student definition created by Congress is strict and is considered controversial by many students and parents. However, Federal regulations related to the classification of a student's dependency status for financial aid must be followed by school financial aid administrators in determining one's eligibility for federal and state aid funds. Whether a student lives in his own home or apartment and/or claims himself as an exemption on his federal income tax return has nothing to do with a student being considered independent for financial aid purposes. 

The only way a student can become independent for financial aid purposes (which means the custodial parents' income and asset information are not required on the FAFSA) is if the student meets at least one of the following guidelines:

  • Student must be over 24 years of age; or

  • The student must be married; or

  • The student must have a child or other dependents who receive more than half their support from the student; or

  • The student must be enrolled as a graduate student (master's, doctoral) or professional student (medicine, dentistry, or law); or

  • The student must be a qualified veteran of the U.S. military or be active duty in the U.S. military; or

  • The student must be an orphan (parents deceased) or ward of the court or was a ward of the court until age 18.

If you do not meet any of these criteria for independent students, you are considered a dependent student and must provide your parents’ information on your FAFSA, or your FAFSA will be rejected.

If you have a special or unusual circumstance that you believe would deem you independent, please contact the Financial Aid Office.

2009-2010 Guidelines

Beginning with award year, 2009-2010, an Independent student will be able to state at least one of the following to be true. (If one of these statements is true, you are an INDEPENDENT student)

  • You were born before January 1, 1986.
  • You were married, as of the day you filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • You have children for whom you will provide more than half of their support from July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010.
  • You have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and you provided more than half of their support and will continue to provide more than half of their support from July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010.
  • When you were 13 years or older you were: an orphan (both parent’s deceased), in foster care, or a ward/dependent of the court
  • You are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • You are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training.
  • You are an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence.
  • You are in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence.
  • You are an unaccompanied homeless youth as determined by either: your high school or school district homeless liaison, the director of an emergency shelter program funded by HUD, or the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center transitional living program.

If you are not able to state one of the above statements is true, you are a DEPENDENT STUDENT and must provide your parents’ information on your FAFSA, or your FAFSA will be rejected.

If you have a special or unusual circumstance that you believe would deem you independent, please contact the Financial Aid Office.