How do I file as an Independent student through FAFSA?

<p>Criteria for filing as an independent student </p>

<p>To complete a FAFSA as independent student, however, you must meet some pretty specific criteria. You must</p>

<p>Be at least 24 on or before December 31 of the award year;
Be an orphan (both parents deceased) or a ward of the court;
Be a veteran;
Be a graduate or professional student;
Be married;
Have legal dependents;
Receive a waiver from a financial aid administrator for unusual circumstances. </p>

<p>^That's what I need according to FAFSA, and I know what to do as far as going in the right direction. But how do I receive a waiver from a financial aid administrator? Who do I go to if I don't know which college has accepted me until March and FAFSA has to be filed well before that? I'm confused and don't know how to start filing as an independent, and I need to do it like now with my situation being so complicated (yes, I do fit the criteria of having unusual circumstances).</p>

<p>Please make the answers really explicit, like I need to know step by step if possible exactly what to do now.</p>

<p>Independent waivers are pretty rare and require extreme circumstances. The way to get an override is to just talk to the financial aid officers at your school. They are the only ones that can grant an override.</p>


<p>I remember you. You've been living away from your parents for a couple of years now and completely supporting yourself??? Right? I think you could get this waiver. Your school is aware of your situation, right?</p>

<p>Go to your GC and get your waiver.</p>

<p>Did you get your Bright Futures staightened out?</p>

<p>hey M2CK! was waiting for you to respond, and no not yet just getting the brunt of my applications out of the way, and then onto that next which is where all of my questions are coming from. I didn't know my GC could get me the waiver?! That would make it so much easier and accessible. So just ask them for one and then what?</p>

<p>mom2collegekids, are you referring to a high school counselor or a college counselor? I didn't know hs counselors could give you an independence override on FAFSA.</p>

<p>A high school counselor can not do a dependency override on FAFSA, but if a high school counselor has officially determined a student is homeless then the student can answer yes to question56. And there is no "waiver" on FAFSA. However questions 56, 57, and 58 on FAFSA may address the OPs situation. The FA officer at the college will likely want verification of the information.</p>

56. At any time on or after July 1, 2009, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless? </p>

<li><p>At any time on or after July 1, 2009, 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? </p></li>
<li><p>At any time on or after July 1, 2009, 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 was self-supporting and at risk of being
homeless? </p></li>

<p>For Questions 56-58, answer “Yes” if you received a determination at any time on or after July 1, 2009, that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless, or for question 58, self-supporting and at risk of being homeless. Note that the financial aid administrator at your college may require you to provide a copy of the determination if you answered “Yes” to Question 56, 57, or 58.


<p>Homeless means lacking regular, stable shelter. If a high school counselor can attest to a student fitting the definition, there is often a state or local form that can be completed attesting to a determination of homelessness. The student would check the "homeless" box on FAFSA.</p>

<p>If a student cannot say yes to any of the dependency questions, she can complete the FAFSA without parent info. It will reject. The student then contacts each school to find out how to file a dependency override request. Yes, it will probably be a relatively last-minute determination.</p>

<p>In the meantime, you can get ready for the materials that will be requested. Get your letters together. You will need a DETAILED statement of your situation, as well as letters from at least two-three people who know about your situation. Their letters need to be detailed, as well. They should be from professionals (counselors, doctors, police, etc) if at all possible. Letters from professionals familiar with your situation will help your case.</p>

<p>Best of luck to you.</p>

<p>^^^ real life FA officer^^^ </p>

<p>Best advice you will get.</p>

<p>If I'm remembering the above student correctly, the school has known that she wasn't being cared for by parents since the 10th grade (she's provided for her own rent and food). I believe she said earlier that the school allowed her to write her own "sick notes" because she had been essentially abandoned.</p>

<p>Considering all of this, would this student sitll not have independent status?</p>

<p>Caring for herself and paying her own rent does not make her homeless. If she received a determination at some point that she was homeless then she can answer yes to one of the questions then obviously she should do so. If she did not receive such a determination then she cannot answer yes. It does sounds like she should be able to get an override from her college financial aid officer. </p>

<p>OP you should follow Kelsmoms advice on how to go about this - she is a Financial Aid Officer so deals with this in real life. Good luck.</p>

<p>The case sounds strong, but I have to caution that this is a Professional Judgment decision & as such there is no guarantee of an override. This is very important for the student to know. The stronger the evidence, the better the chance for an override. That is why I suggest gathering documentation NOW. Start a file. One of the biggest reasons requests that are later approved are initially denied is because the evidence provided is vague. "Suzie has had to take care of herself. She deserves a chance to go to school," doesn't cut it. "Suzie's mother and father have been addicts Suzie's whole life. Social Services has never seemed to understand how bad things were in the house. In the time I have known her, I have been privy to the following situations: the police were called five times for domestic disputes; Suzie's mother locked her out in the freezing cold because she didn't have dinner on the table at six; Suzie's parents have left her alone for extended periods of time; blah, blah, blah." In other words, DETAILS. This is NOT the time to be reticent. Explanations are not just welcome ... they are required. Also included in the documentation should be details about the current relationship between the student & parents. Is it irreparably damaged? In what way can this be demonstrated? Again, details. The details are confidential & are kept on file for audit purposes. The school must be able to support the reason they overrode federal dependency rules with clear-cut evidence of the situation.</p>

<p>I often think about the little boy I knew at my kids' elementary school who sometimes came to school in his pajamas. His lunch was often lemons (guess his parents liked them in their drinks) - nothing else. In first grade, he got up & got to the bus by himself. HE was already "independent" at 6. If he were to want a dependency override now, there is no doubt I'd grant it ... but he'd have to document it. I know what he's been through. He would have to paint the picture for those who DON'T know him.</p>

<p>kelsmom thanks so much. not ignoring other peoples' posts either, these are awesome and really helpful. sorry took so long to respond, i have been dealing with work and of course, college stuff. question: for each school's individual finaid deadlines, is that when the FAFSA has to be complete only, or is that when I have to get my dependency override calls out by? i'm just confused about the difference. also, i am having trouble locating my dad's police record because he was taken care of in a different county since my mom works for my locations judicial circuit and the court deemed it a conflict of interest if he was dealt with here - what do I do if I can't effectively print off a record? my plan was to send a copy of the recorded incident to each school.</p>

<p>ALSO: about the detailed things, my roommate only knows why I moved in with her (like the aftermath of my struggle), would she be good to write something about her perspective? it might not be terribly detailed since she can only talk about what she has known so far as far as seeing me come home from school straight to work, hearing my conversations with my mother get ugly about her lack of presence in my life in choosing my father over me during the abuse, etc. additionally, can i use examples of my siblings' abuse as well or should i only stick to myself?</p>

<p>Use every incident you can think of. Since your roommate doesn't know the details, please try to find someone who does. A high school counselor, a doctor, a therapist, someone in the court system, a relative who is very aware of the situation & can describe some incidents. The police report would be great, but I know that this may be difficult for you to secure. Can you enlist the help of your counselor? Have you ever had a caseworker you could call?</p>

<p>As far as timing, the sooner you get the override, the better your chances of getting in on the limited pool of grant money at schools. Apply early, then contact them about the need for a dependency override. Where I work, we are not ready for next year yet, so we would tell you to wait. But I would also tell you that it wouldn't hurt to send a letter for your file that states that you have filed as an independent student because it truly is not possible to include parent data - and that supporting info will be sent when the school is accepting dependency override requests for 2010-11.</p>

<p>lulz. All these walls of text for one of the most redundant and lazy questions..</p>

<p>College</a> Confidential - Search Forums</p>

<p>no one asked you.</p>

<p>thanks kelsmom!</p>

<p>I want to bring this thread back up to let those who followed it know what is happening. Kerissak has followed through beautifully, getting the information she needs to support her case for independent status. She has the agency report she needed, which will be extremely helpful for her case. She has detailed supporting letters. Trust me, hers is the type of situation for which the "professional judgment" option is given to aid administrators.</p>

<p>I want to point this out because while we so often correctly tell students that they are not going to be considered independent ... there absolutely are cases where students should be considered independent due to their unusual circumstances. In such cases, students will have to get documentation that proves their situation. Kerissak did not have an easy time getting the information, but she figured out a way. I can't promise what an individual school will decide to do, of course, but I feel that she has a strong chance of being considered independent by her schools. If you are a student who has had a really rough life, know that you may have options ... and make sure you follow through by gathering documentation and communicating with your schools.</p>

<p>^^Kelsmom I admire you greatly. The help you provide is invaluable to some of the students that post here. The fact that you turnaround after a work day and contribute your time on these forums is testament.</p>

<p>I second that^^^</p>

<p>i third, fourth, and fifth that. i can't thank you enough for everything you've done. you, and everyone on this website. i can't really say what would have happened to me if i hadn't found this site when i did - i wouldn't have applied to two of my schools and i definitely would have considered giving up due to the hardships i came across, thinking i had no alternatives. thank you. thank you. thank you. you're a wonderful set of people, truly.</p>

<p>anyone having trouble in the struggle of this crazy, out-of-the-norm situation, please feel free to PM me with questions (already got a couple of those) or comment on here. all the moms here are awesome.</p>

<p>What a timely thread. I spent quite awhile today hashing out issues for a student at the high school who needs a dependency override. What a process! Ack.</p>

<p>Kerrisak, great good luck to you! I hope everything works out and next fall you're beginning your freshman year at college and enjoying it immensely.</p>