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Federal Dependency Status

Undergraduate students (including Professional Health Certificate Students) who are considered federally dependent must have their parents submit their information and signature on the FAFSA. To determine your dependency status for the 2020-21 academic year, answer the following questions:

  • Were you born before January 1, 1997?
  • Will you be working on a degree beyond a bachelor's degree, such as a master's or doctorate, in school year 2020-21? (note: Professional Health Students should answer "NO" to this question.)
  • As of the date you will be submitting the FAFSA, are you married? (Answer yes if you are separated, but not divorced.)
  • Do you have children who receive more than half of their support from you, or do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2021?
  • At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
  • Has it been determined by a court in your state of legal residence that you are an emancipated minor or that someone other than your parent or stepparent has legal guardianship of you? (You also should answer "Yes" if you are now an adult but were in legal guardianship or were an emancipated minor immediately before you reached the age of being an adult in your state. Answer "No" if the court papers say "custody" rather than "guardianship.")
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2019, were you determined to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, as determined by (a) your high school or district homeless liaison, (b) the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or (c) the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program?**
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the Armed Forces for other than training purposes?

If you answered "YES" to ANY question above, you are considered INDEPENDENT for the purposes of federal aid. You are not required to submit parent information on the FAFSA and you are not required to submit parent tax information to Northwestern University.

If you answered "NO" to ALL of the questions above, you are considered DEPENDENT for the purposes of federal aid. You ARE required to submit your parent(s)' information and signature on the FAFSA and you MAY BE required to submit a copy of your parent(s)' federal taxes and W2 forms to Northwestern University as part of your financial aid application.

A veteran is a student who participated in active service in the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard and was released under a condition other than dishonorable. This includes a student who attended a US military academy but withdrew in good standing, as well as a student who is not a veteran now, but will be a veteran by June 30, 2021. If you are currently serving on active duty in the Armed Forces for other than training purposes, you also qualify as an independent student.

A dependent child does not have to live with you, so long as the child receives more than half of his/her support from you. The child may include a biological or adopted child, or a child for whom you are the legal guardian. Note that generally speaking, if the child meets the 50% support test, the child should be claimed as an exemption on your income tax return.