This is a factual requirement spelled out by federal regulation. Generally, one must :
Be 24 years of age or older by December 31 of the award year;
Be an orphan (both parents deceased), ward of the court, in foster care or was a ward of the court when 13 years or older;
Be a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States or serving on active duty for other than training purposes;
Be a graduate or professional student;
Be a married individual;
Have legal dependents other than a spouse;
Be an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship;
Be a homeless youth;
Be a student for whom a financial aid administrator makes a documented determination of independence by reason of other unusual circumstances.
Otherwise , file Dependency Review Form; (request one from your school). You also must provide documentation explaining your situation. Your case is then reviewed by a committee or financial aid office at your college.
Keep in mind that most students will not qualify for a change in status. Circumstances tend to be extreme (such as abandonment or physical abuse) to warrant the change. Simply residing in your own apartment or house is not adequate justification.
If you think you have unusual circumstances that would qualify you as an independent, speak with a financial aid administrator at your school.
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