Based on your dependency status for the 2017-2018 academic year, you will need to know whose financial information to report on the FAFSA – if you are an independent student you report yours (and, if married, your spouse’s) and if you’re a dependent student you report yours and  your parents’ income.

Federal Financial Independence

To be considered independent a student must meet one of the following conditions below, if none of them apply to you, you’re a dependent student.

Age 24

You were born before January 1, 1994 for the 2017-2018 academic year.

A student is automatically considered to be independent of his/her parents if he/she has reached the age of 24 on or before December 31 of the award year (i.e. December 31, 2015 for the 2015-2016 academic year).

Orphan/Ward of the Court

When you were age 13 or older, both your parents were deceased or you were in foster care or a dependent ward of the court.

Emancipated Minor

As of the day you apply for aid, you are an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence.

Legal Guardianship

As of the day you apply for aid, you are in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence.

Veterans and U.S. Armed Forces

You are considered a veteran if you 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 state or training purposes, or were a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies and were released under a condition other than dishonorable.

Graduate Student

The student is enrolled in a graduate or professional degree program (i.e. law, medicine) at the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year.


The student is married as of the day the FAFSA is completed (even if you are separated and not divorced).

Children/Legal Dependents

The student has children who will receive more than half their support from you between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018 or;

You have legal dependents (other than children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half their support from you now and through June 30, 2018.


At any time after July 1, 2016, you were determined to be unaccompanied youth who was homeless, determined by your high school, district homeless liaison or director of an emergency shelter program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

After July 1, 2016, the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.

Unusual Circumstances

If the student does not meet one of the previous conditions but has an extenuating circumstance a financial aid administrator may adjust the student’s status to independent. The unusual situation must be documented to the satisfaction of the financial aid administrator.

Dependent students

  • Must report on the FAFSA their parents’ income and assets as well as their own.
  • Programs are based on the concept that a dependent student’s parents have the primary responsibility for the student’s education.
  • Your parents’ information will be used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Independent students

  • Report only their own income and assets and those of a spouse if married.
  • Not living with parents or not being claimed by them on the tax form does not determine dependency status.

New York State Financial Independence

Age: Under 22 as of June 30, 2017

The student must meet the basic criterion for independent status plus one of the following special conditions:

  1. The student’s parents are deceased or are totally and permanently disabled or have been declared incompetent by judicial action.
  2. The student is a ward of the court. This does not include incarcerated students.
  3. The student is receiving public assistance under his/her own name. This does not include food stamps or unemployment insurance.
  4. The student has been rendered financially independent due to the involuntary dissolution of his/her family resulting in the relinquishment of his/her parents responsibility and control.

If the student answers all the independent questions on the TAP application “no”, and is under the age of 22 he/she must document that one of these special conditions has been met. HESC will send the student a Financial Independence Supplement when they receive and process the student’s TAP application. This form is sent automatically.

Waiver of Special Conditions:

The student does not have to meet the special conditions if he/she:

  • Was married on or before December 31, 2016
  • Is enrolled as a graduate student in the 2016-2017 academic year.
  • Received TAP as an independent student in the prior award year (2016-2017).

Age: 22 to 34

Students are not automatically considered to be independent for the purposes of the TAP program until they are 35 years old. In the meantime, they must meet all of the following conditions to be considered independent.

The Student:

  • Did not and will not live in the parents home or a building owned or leased by the parents in 2016, 2017 or 2018, even if he/she paid rent.
  • Is not or will not be listed as a dependent of the parent on the 2016 or 2017 tax return.
  • Did not and will not receive more than $750 in financial assistance (loans, gifts, etc.) from either or both parents in 2016, 2017 or 2018.

If the student answers yes to any of the questions on the TAP application, and is under the age of 35, he/she must provide parent financial information to be considered for TAP.

Age: 35 +

Student is automatically independent.