Independent Student

For federal financial aid you are considered financially independent if you meet one or more of the following criteria:

  1. you are 23 years of age as of January 1 of the award year
  2. you are married as of the day you file your FAFSA
  3. you are enrolled in either a master's or doctoral degree or professional certificate program
  4. you are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, or a National Guard or Reserves enlistee called into federal active duty for other than training purposes
  5. you are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
  6. you have children who are receiving more than 50% of their support from you as of the day you file your FAFSA and will continue to receive that support through June 30 of the award year
  7. you have other dependents (not including your children or spouse) who are living with you as of the day you file the FAFSA, receiving more than 50% of their support from you, and will continue to live with you and receive that support through June 30 of the award year
  8. both of your parents were deceased, you were in foster care, or you were a dependent/ward of the court at any time after age 13 or older
  9. you are or were an emancipated minor as determined by a court in a state where you had legal residence
  10. you are or were in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence
  11. you were an unaccompanied homeless youth as determined by a high school or school district homeless liaison on or after July 1 of the current award year
  12. you were an unaccompanied homeless youth as determined by the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on or after July 1 of the current award year
  13. you were an unaccompanied homeless youth (or an unaccompanied, self-supporting youth at risk of becoming homeless) as determined by a director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program on or after July 1 of the current award year

The Financial Aid Office may require you document your claim of independence under these conditions. If you do not fall into one of these above categories, but meet certain other conditions which can be documented, you may qualify to be independent for federal financial aid (discuss your situation with a financial aid counselor).

The definition of financial independence for TAP purposes differs from that used for federal programs.

If you are 22 years of age or under as of June 30 of the award year, you must report parents' income in the TAP portion of your CUNY FAF unless you meet certain defined conditions established by New York State law that show you to be independent of your parents (refer to the application instruction booklet to see if you qualify).

If you are, or will be, 22 years of age as of June 30 of the award year, but are under age 35, you may be considered financially independent if, during the previous calendar year and for the two calendar years making up the academic year for which TAP is being requested, you have not (and will not have):

  1. been claimed as an exemption for income tax purposes by your parents (step parents or adoptive parents);
  2. received financial assistance of more than $750.00 from your parents (step parents or adoptive parents);
  3. lived in a building owned, leased or rented by your parents (step parents or adoptive parents).

If you are, or will be, 35 years of age as of June 30 of the award year, you are considered automatically independent for TAP purposes.