Determining Independent Student Status

Independent Student Definition

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Please review the following and answer each question:

  • Were you born before January 1, 1991?
  • As of today, are you married? (Answer yes if separated, but not divorced)
  • At the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, graduate certificate, etc.)?
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
  • Do you now have, or will you have, children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015?
  • Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and will receive more than half of their support from you now and through June 30, 2015?
  • At any time since you turned age 13, were both of 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?
  • As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you in legal guardianship?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2013, 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, 2013, 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, 2013, 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?

If you answered YES to any of the above questions, according to Federal regulations, you are automatically considered self-supporting (not dependent upon parents/legal guardians). Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) using only YOUR information.


If you answered NO to all of the questions above, you may still qualify for Independent status if you believe your particular family circumstances warrant further evaluation.

Unusual situations that would be considered for a dependency override include parental abandonment, physical abuse, emotional abuse, substance abuse, the death of student’s custodial parent, or other unusual situations. Please provide the following to our office:

  • A signed statement by the student explaining their situation in detail.
  • A minimum of two letters (three are preferred) from third parties who know the student’s circumstances. At least one must be from a professional (such as a teacher, high school counselor, member of the clergy, social worker, etc); others can be from family members or friends. These letters must fully explain the specific situation the student found themselves in, how that situation was rectified, where and with whom the student is now residing and how the student is being supported.
  • If applicable please provide:
    • a copy of the death certificate if custodial parent is deceased, and
    • documentation showing the custodial relationship (i.e., divorce decree, etc.).

Your dependency status for 2014-2015 will be reviewed after receipt of all documents. You will be contacted with the determination. If you are unsure of how you should proceed, feel free to schedule a meeting with a Student Financial Services Specialist for guidance on your particular situation.

Submit to: Northwestern Michigan College Student Financial Services
1701 E. Front Street, Traverse City, MI 49686
231-995-1035 • 800-748-0566 • fax 231-995-1937
Email: sfs@nmc.edu

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