Am I a dependent or independent student?
Dependency is a term used by the Department of Education (ED), related to the Expected Family Contribution number that they calculate for students.
If the ED determines that a student is a dependent student, they will require parent financial information on the FAFSA to determine if the student's parents will be able to contribute money towards the student's higher education. It doesn't matter if the student's parents actually support the student financially or not. If the ED determines that a student is dependent and that the student's parents could contribute money, the amount that the ED determines that the student's parents could contribute will be factored into the Expected Family Contribution calculation.
If the ED determines that a student is an independent student, they will not require parent financial information on the FAFSA.
The ED uses various factors such as a student's age, marital status, other family factors, educational status, residential history, and Armed Forces experience to determine if they consider a student dependent or independent.