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Washington State University
Student Financial Services Dependency Appeals
Dependency Appeals

Federal financial aid regulations require the family to take primary responsibility for meeting the educational costs of students. Financial aid eligibility is determined by using both the student and parent financial information for students who are considered dependent according to the federal government criteria. To be considered and receive federal financial aid, dependent students are required to provide parental information and signature(s).

Occasionally, due to unusual circumstances, students cannot obtain the parental information needed and required. If this is your situation, you have the option to appeal this federal regulation by completing certain steps and providing documentation to our office to move forward with an appeal review.

None of the conditions below, singly or in combination, qualify as an unusual circumstance meriting a dependency change:

  • Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education.
  • Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification.
  • Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes.
  • Student does not live with parent(s) and demonstrates total self-sufficiency

If you have an unusual circumstance other than those mentioned above please submit a Dependency Status Appeal.

Determining Dependency Status

When you first complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you are asked a series of questions  to determine your dependency status. Based on those answers:

  • If you are considered dependent, you must report your parents’ income and assets as well as your own on the FAFSA. (See the FAFSA explanatory notes for more information on who is considered your parent.)
  • If you’re considered independent, you will only need to report your own income and assets (and those of your spouse, if you’re married) on the FAFSA.
  • Please note that not living with your parents, not being financially supported by your parents, or not being claimed by your parents on their tax returns does not determine your dependency status.

A student is considered independent on the FAFSA if at least one of the following applies:

  • For 22-23 applicants, was born before January 1, 1999.
    For 23-24 applicants, was born before January 1, 2000;
  • is married as of the date he or she applies;
  • will be a graduate or professional student when the award year starts;
  • is currently serving on active duty for purposes other than training;
  • is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces;
  • has dependents other than a spouse;
  • was an orphan, foster child, or ward/dependent of the court at any time since the age of 13;
  • is an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship or was when the student reached the age of majority in his or her state; or
  • was determined at any time since July 1, 2022, to be an unaccompanied homeless youth or unaccompanied, at risk of homelessness, and self-supporting, without regard to such individual’s age;
  • is an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.

For more information about determining dependency status please visit

Dependency Appeal Process

In certain unusual circumstances, the Student Financial Services office can consider if it should treat a student who doesn’t meet the above criteria as an independent student for federal financial aid purposes. To be considered, a student must complete and submit a Dependency Status Appeal Form and the appropriate documentation to our office.

The following information is required when submitting the Dependency Status Appeal:

  • Supporting statements from at least three adults (one of whom is not a relative or friend) that can corroborate the student’s unusual circumstance.
  • The student will provide a narrative of their circumstances under which they believe a dependency appeal is warranted.
  • Any possible supporting documentation that corroborates the unusual circumstance (court documents, police reports, death certificates, etc.)

Complete a Dependency Status Appeal