Dependency Override Requests
When you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you are assigned a dependency status based on your answers to a series of questions. Your dependency status determines whose financial information must be reported on the FAFSA each year.
- Dependent students must report both student and parent information.
- Independent students must report student information and their spouse's information (if married).
A dependent student is assumed to have the support of parents, so their information has to be assessed along with the student's to get a full picture of the family's financial strength. Your parent(s) may choose not to contribute toward your educational costs, but federal aid programs consider them to be primarily responsible, so their income and assets must be included on the FAFSA to ensure all dependent students are treated fairly.
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What determines whether a student is Dependent or Independent?
A student’s dependency status is determined based on the responses to specific questions in Step Three of the Student’s Section on the FAFSA. For the 2018-19 academic year, the questions are #46 to #58. For the questions on the 2019-20 FAFSA, please refer to the bottom of page 6 at this link https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/2019-20-fafsa.pdf If a student answers "no" to all of the questions below, they are considered DEPENDENT for financial aid purposes.
- Were you born before January 1, 1995?
- As of today, are you married? (Also answer "Yes" if you are separated but not divorced.)
- At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, will you be working on a master's or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, JD, PhD, EdD, graduate certificate, etc.)?
- Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
- Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
- Do you now have or will have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019?
- Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2019?
- 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?
- As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?
- Does someone other than your parent or stepparent have legal guardianship of you, as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2017, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2017 did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2017, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
What is a Dependency Override?
A dependency override occurs when a financial aid counselor exercises professional judgment to override the standard dependency criteria based on extenuating family circumstances. This is only done in cases in which the student can provide compelling reason for excluding parental information on the FAFSA, and can provide documentation to demonstrate the dissolution of any student/parent relationship.
What circumstances may warrant a Dependency Override?
The following are some examples that may warrant a dependency override if the circumstances can be documented. This list is not all-inclusive and the presence of one or more of these situations does not guarantee the approval of a dependency override.
- Documented abandonment – parents voluntarily left the student or were absent in the student’s life for an extended period of time.
- Unsafe living environment as a result of physical, emotional, sexual or substance abuse by a parent.
- Parental incarceration
- Parental mental incapacity/institutionalization
- Death of custodial parent and no contact with other biological/legal parent.
- Parents do not reside in the U.S. and cannot be contacted
- Parents disowned or ended contact/support because of conflicting beliefs or practices related to race, religion, education, health, gender, sexual orientation, cultural expectations, etc.
By federal law, the following circumstances DO NOT warrant a dependency override, individually or in combination:
- Parent(s) do not claim you as a dependent for income tax purposes or they don’t file taxes even though they are legally required to;
- Parent(s) are unable or unwilling to contribute to your education;
- Parent(s) refuse to provide their information on the FAFSA, or if needed to complete the Verification process;
- You’re unwilling to ask your parent(s) to complete the FAFSA;
- You’re completely self-sufficient (have a job, pay your own bills, etc.).
What if I have a relationship with my parents but they won’t provide their information on my FAFSA?
We recommend having a candid conversation with your parents to ensure they’re well-informed about the impact their decision will have on your future. Here are a few noteworthy items to tell them:
- Providing their information on the FAFSA does not obligate your parent(s) to pay for college. However, their refusal to provide their information will exclude you from all types of need-based federal and state aid, which could result in your not being able to attend college at all.
- If privacy is a concern, be assured that income and other personal information is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Schools will not disclose parent information to anyone, and if they use the IRS data retrieval process when completing the FAFSA, no income information will be visible by you or your parents; it’s electronically transferred to the FAFSA from the IRS.
- If your parents choose to help you with your educational costs, they may be eligible for a credit that allows them to reduce their taxes after paying for tuition, fees, books and housing/meal plan.
When talking to your parents, determine your expected costs and the amount you intend to cover (i.e. earnings from summer job) to demonstrate that you're contributing as much as you can. Do your best to help them understand that without financial aid and/or their assistance, you may not be able to complete your education. Unfortunately, there are no additional resources available from the school or the government if you are considered a dependent student and your parents will not provide their information on the FAFSA.**
**If your parents refuse to complete the FAFSA, did not claim you the past 2 years on their income tax return, do not cover you on any insurance policies, do not provide any financial support for you and will not provide any financial support, you may request a FAFSA Override. A FAFSA Override is difference from a Dependency Override. If granted a FAFSA Override, your dependency status remains unchanged, but you can be awarded the maximum amount in the Unsubsidized Direct Loan for your grade level ($5500 for freshman, $6500 for a sophomore, and $7500 for a junior or senior). While the FAFSA Override option allows you to submit the FAFSA without parental information, that maximum loan award is usually not enough to cover all educational costs.
To apply for a FAFSA Override, a form must be submitted along with proof that you were not claimed on your parent(s) tax returns or insurance. Additionally, your parents will be required to submit a signed statement confirming they will not be providing any financial support to you through June following the end of the academic year. If you would like to complete a FAFSA Override Form, please email Kristie Myers at Kristie.Myers@ndsu.edu and the form will be emailed to you.
How and when do I request a Dependency Override?
You may complete the Dependency Override Request Form if any of the circumstances listed in the prior question apply to your relationship with your biological or legal parent(s). Deadlines to submit your override request do apply but they vary depending on the semester or semesters for which you plan to enroll. Please refer to the general submission guidelines below. NOTE - An override renewal for 2019-20 cannot be submitted unless it has been three months of longer since your 2018-19 override was approved by NDSU.
Dependency override requests must be submitted at least four weeks prior to the end of the semester to allow adequate time for review and to allow for reprocessing of your FAFSA.
You must complete your FAFSA prior to requesting a Dependency Override. You should complete and submit your FAFSA, excluding your parent information. Instructions for completing your FAFSA and recommended completion dates can be found at https://www.ndsu.edu/onestop/finaid/application/process