As stipulated by the U.S. Department of Education, you're an independent student for the 2012-2013 academic year IF at least one of the criteria below applies to you. If none of these criteria apply to you, you're a dependent student for financial aid purposes.
- You were born before Jan. 1, 1989.
- You are or will be enrolled in a master's or doctoral degree program (beyond a bachelor's degree) at the beginning of the 2012-13 academic year.
- You're married on the day you apply (even if you are separated but not divorced).
- You have children who receive more than half their financial support from you.
- You have dependents (other than your children and spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half their financial support from you at the time you apply and through June 30, 2013.
- Both your parents are deceased or you are (or were until age 18) a ward or dependent of the court.
- You are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training.
- You're a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces. (A "veteran" includes students who attended a U.S. service academy and were released under a condition other than dishonorable.)
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Funding Education Beyond High School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid 2007-08, Washington, D.C. This guide is available online through the Federal Student Aid Web site.