Getting Started

Effective 2024-2025 award year, a contributor on the FAFSA is anyone required to provide consent and approval for obtaining federal tax information needed to complete a student’s FAFSA. If applicable, it may include:

  • Student
  • Student’s spouse
  • Parent, biological or adopted
  • Parent’s spouse (stepparent)

  • The student’s answers on their section of the FAFSA will determine which additional contributors (such as parents or spouse) will be required to provide their information.
  • Grandparents, foster parents, legal guardians, older brothers or sisters, widowed stepparents, and aunts and uncles ARE NOT considered parents unless they’ve legally adopted you. For more information on this, please visit
  • If the parent you indicated on the FAFSA® is a parent who is remarried, the parent who must create a FSA ID depends on their filing status. If they filed jointly, only one parent needs a FSA ID. If they filed separately, both parents would need their own FSA ID.

All students and contributors must create a FSA ID ( to complete the FAFSA® form online. Students and contributors will use their FSA ID account username and password to log in to their accounts.

Even if a parent or spouse contributor does not have a Social Security number, they can still get a FSA ID using their ITIN to fill out their portion of the student’s FAFSA® form online.

The contributor will be invited via email to create a FSA ID and complete their portion of the FAFSA® form by entering their name, date of birth, Social Security number, and email address. The contributor must also provide personal and financial information in their own sections of the FAFSA® form.

Being a contributor does NOT implicate financial responsibility. However, if a required contributor refuses to provide their information, it will result in an incomplete FAFSA® form, and the student will become ineligible for federal student aid.

Starting with the 2024–25 FAFSA®, a separate signature page will no longer exist. There are two alternative options for contributors to provide consent who do not want to or refuse to create a FSA ID:

  • The first example would be the student applying using the paper FAFSA® and obtaining physical signatures from all contributors, including the parents, who also affirm their consent.
  • The other option is once the student completes their section and self-reports information for the parent section on the FAFSA® form. When the student submits their FAFSA® form without the parent’s signature, it will be placed in rejected status by the FAFSA® Processing System (FPS). The parent can then provide their signature and consent on a paper copy of the FAFSA® Submission Summary. This method is not recommended due to complexity and increased processing time. 

Professional Judgement and Appeals

Most students entering a postsecondary school straight from high school are considered financially dependent on their parents unless they meet one of the following criteria to be considered independent:

  • 24 years of age or older by January 1st of the school year for which the student is applying for aid
  • married or separated but not divorced
  • a graduate or professional student
  • a veteran or a member of the armed forces
  • an orphan or a ward of the court at any time since age 13
  • someone with legal dependents other than a spouse
  • an emancipated minor as determined by a court
  • someone who is unaccompanied and homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless

Various factors such as changes in family circumstances, traumatic events, or reductions in income may influence your financial aid situation. Under federal guidelines, our financial aid administrators have the flexibility to consider individual situations and, with appropriate documentation, adjust the information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), adjust the Cost of Attendance, and/or the student’s dependency status on a case-by-case basis. There are a few different categories that financial aid administrators consider when reviewing a student’s circumstance:

a. The following may qualify as a Special Circumstance

i. Loss or reduction of employment, wages, or unemployment compensation

ii. Exceptional medical expenses

iii. Exceptional housing costs above and beyond the school’s Cost of Attendance

iv. Divorce or separation that occurred after the FAFSA was filed

v. Death of a parent or spouse that occurred after the FAFSA was filed

b. The following may qualify as an Unusual Circumstance

i. An abusive family environment

ii. Abandonment and/or estrangement by parents

iii. Parents cannot be located

iv. Cannot provide parental information for the FAFSA if it would cause an unsafe environment

v. Parents are incarcerated

vi. Victim of human trafficking

What is Provisional Independence and what do I need to know about it?

  • Starting in the 2024-25 award year, applicants who indicate on their FAFSA form that they have unusual circumstances will be granted provisional independent status.
  • Students with unusual circumstances will be granted provisional independent status and can complete the FAFSA form without providing parental information.
  • Once the FAFSA is submitted, students can then reach out to the Financial Planning office to request that their independent status determination be approved based on supporting documentation.
  • A financial aid administrator will make the final determination of a student’s unusual circumstance based on the documentation and information that the student submits to the school.
  • If a school approves a student’s unusual circumstance, their independent student status will remain as long as the student stays at the same school and their circumstance does not change.