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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.

You will be considered independent if on the 2022-2023 FAFSA at least one of the following applies to you:

  • You were born before January 1, 1999.
  • You are married (or separated but not divorced) as of the day you complete the FAFSA.
  • You are or will be working towards a Master’s or Doctorate degree (beyond a bachelor’s degree).
  • You have children who will receive more than half their support from you.
  • You have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and receive more than half of their support from you.
  • You are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training.
  • You are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Services.
  • At any time since you turned age 13, you were in foster care, both of your parents were deceased, or you were a ward or dependent of the court.
  • You are an emancipated minor or in a legal guardianship as determined by the court.
  • You are 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