Dependent or Independent?

Use the Department of Education's “Am I Dependent or Independent?” questionnaire to see if you will have to provide information about your parents on the FASFA.

STAR

Students Transitioning and Achieving Results (STAR) program offers free college planning services including help with applications and financial aid forms.

Unaccompanied Youth

CCP's Checklist for Unaccompanied Youth On the Road to College.


Financial aid is a major consideration for studying in a foreign country. A list of currently participating schools can be accessed here under the "International Schools That Participate in the Federal Student Loan Programs" link.

If I am attending a foreign school through a “Study Abroad” Program sponsored by my domestic school, do I apply for federal student aid through the foreign school?

No. Federal student aid for a short period or a study abroad program is processed by the student’s postsecondary school in the U.S.

As a student, what criteria do I have to meet to borrow a federal student loan for attendance at a foreign institution? There are several requirements for students to be eligible to receive federal student aid for attendance at a foreign school including:

  • The qualified student must be enrolled as a “regular” student (enrolled for the purpose of obtaining a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential offered by the school.) A student who has a high school diploma, a secondary school completion credential, or its recognized equivalent is considered qualified.
  • A student must be enrolled at least half time in order to receive aid.
  • A student must make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) as determined by the school.
  • The student must meet criteria related to citizenship.
  • The student must have a correct social security number.
  • The student must not be in default on any Title IV program loan (unless he or she has taken prescribed steps to cure the default), be in receipt of excess Title IV loan amounts or grant payments, or have property that is subject to a judgment lien for a debt owed to the United States (U.S.).
  • The student must satisfy Selective Service registration requirements, and not be subject to ineligibility based on a drug conviction.

How do I apply for federal student aid?

To apply for a loan, the student must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). All students (undergraduate and graduate) may access the FAFSA at fafsa.ed.gov.

Before Beginning a FAFSA:

  • Search for School Codes
  • Select academic year when you will attend, choose “search”, and then click “Next”.
  • Now scroll through “What state is the school in?” For Canadian schools, select “Canada.”  For schools in any other country, select “Foreign Country.”

Foster Youth: You Can Go to College

Did you know over 70% of youth in foster care want to go to college? While the road to actually attending college may seem daunting and challenging, it’s important to remember a college education will help you achieve your long-term dreams and prepare you for a great career. It’s also important to understand That there are many resources available to assist you along the way.

The Center for College’s STAR (Students Transitioning and Achieving Results) program offers free college planning services including assistance with applications and financial aid forms. You will find us working with foster youth in district offices or at special events, helping students to plan for college and filing the necessary financial aid paperwork.

College campuses also support foster youth with assistance with the admission and financial aid processes. Once on campus, services such as academic advising, counseling, peer mentoring, and career services will support you during your college career and help you as you prepare for life after college.

What is the definition of an independent student?

Because the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) formula for a dependent student uses parental data, and the two formulas for independent students do not, the first step in calculating a student’s EFC is to determine his or her dependency status. A student is automatically determined to be an independent applicant for federal student aid if he or she meets one or more of the following criteria for the academic school year in question:

  • The student is age 24 or older.
  • The student is married or separated (but not divorced) as of the date of the application.
  • The student will be enrolled in a master’s or doctoral degree program (such as MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, or graduate certificate, etc.).
  • The student is currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces or is a National Guard or Reserves enlistee called into federal active duty for purposes other than training.
  • The student is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces (see the definition in the box on page 4).
  • The student has or will have one or more children who receive more than half of their support from him or her.
  • The student has dependent(s) (other than children or spouse) who live with him or her and who receive more than half of their support from the student.
  • At any time since the student turned age 13, both of the student’s parents were deceased, the student was in foster care, or a dependent or ward of the court.
  • As determined by a court in the student’s state of legal residence, the student is now or was upon reaching the age of majority, an emancipated minor (released from control by his or her parent or guardian).
  • As determined by a court in the student’s state of legal residence, the student is now or was upon reaching the age of majority, in legal guardianship.
  • The student was determined by a high school or school district homeless liaison to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or was self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.
  • The student was determined by the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or was self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.
  • The student was determined by a director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or was self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.
  • The student was determined by the college financial aid administrator (FAA) to be an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or is self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.

For students who do not meet any of the above criteria but who have documented unusual circumstances, an FAA can override their dependency status from dependent to independent. An FAA can also make a determination of independence with documentation of special circumstances, even if the student initially filed as a dependent student. For more details, visit studentaid.ed.gov

Financial Aid Implications for Teen Workers

Whether cleaning the stadium after a ball game, filing paperwork in an office, taking orders from the drive-thru or walking dogs, part-time or summer jobs can provide you with a sense of responsibility, news skills, and, of course, extra cash! Are you curious if working could impact your eligibility for financial aid? Read on.

Financial Aid Impact

Summer and part-time work is a great way for students to earn money towards books, supplies and spending money for college. However, students inevitably want to know that their blood, sweat, and tears will not be in vain. It would be a shame to earn and save only to discover that the money negatively impacted your eligibility for financial aid. So, here are the facts.

When determining your eligibility for financial aid, the Department of Education asks you to report information about your income and assets on the financial aid application called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It collects this information (and lots more) to determine the amount you and your family can afford to pay towards the cost of college. This amount is called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Let's consider the example of Joe High School Student.

While Joe High School Student does have to report the total amount earned from working, the total amount is not used to calculate the EFC. The federal government formula is adjusted each year but for 2017-2018, it allows dependent student workers to make up to $6,420 before income begins to impact financial aid eligibility. And, even then, students can expect to see their Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) only increase by .50 for every dollar beyond $6,420.

Joe earns $7,500 in 2015. How much will FAFSA expect him to contribute to the EFC?

Joe High School Student earns $7,500 by working at a local grocery store. Joe's income protection allowance for 2017-2018 as a dependent student is $6,420. So, when we subtract the allowance from the earnings, we discover that his available income is $1,080.

Of the $1,08, FAFSA expects 50% of available income or $540 to be included in the calculation of the EFC.

If Joe saves all $7,500 how much will FAFSA expect him to contribute from savings toward the EFC?

The federal EFC formula calculates 20% of student savings when determining the EFC. So, if Joe saved all $7,500, the EFC will include $1,500 from savings.

Assuming Joe earns and saves $7,500 total, his expected student contribution will be $2,040 which leaves just under $5,500 protected from financial aid consideration.

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