Federal Dependency Information 2020-2021

A. Independent

An independent student is an individual who meets one of the following criteria:

  1. born before Jan. 1, 1997.
  2. married at the time of application for federal student aid
  3. graduate or professional student
  4. currently on active duty in the armed forces for purposes other than training
  5. veteran of the armed forces of the United States
  6. has legal dependents other than a spouse, including children born during the award year.
  7. age 13 or older, whose parents were both deceased, who was in foster care, or was an orphan or ward of the court
  8. an emancipated minor as determined by a court in his or her state of legal residence
  9. in legal guardianship as determined by a court in his or her state of legal residence
  10. determined a homeless, unaccompanied youth by his or her high-school or school-district liaison on or after July 1, 2019
  11. determined a homeless unaccompanied youth on or after July 1, 2019 by the director of an emergency shelter program
  12. determined a homeless unaccompanied youth, or self-supporting youth at risk of being homeless, on or after July 1, 2019 by the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional-living program.

B. Dependent

If a student fails to meet the criterion outlined under independent, that student is dependent. Students who do not meet the automatic federal independency criteria, but claim to be independent, should read the following section on dependency status reviews. If a student fails to provide acceptable documentation to the financial aid office to prove his/her dependency, he or she will be considered dependent.

2020-2021 Federal Dependency Review


The federal processor utilizes parental information in the calculation of federal student aid eligibility if the applicant does not meet any of the independent criteria described above, as determined by Congress in the Higher Education Amendments of July 23, 1993. Federal regulations grant financial aid offices discretion under sections 480(d) and 479A of the Higher Education Amendments of July 23, 1993 in the determination of a student's independent student status. However, regulations are specific as to what qualifies warrants a dependency override. Please note that none of the following circumstances will qualify a student for a dependency override:

  1. parents refuse to contribute to the student's education
  2. parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification
  3. parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes
  4. student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.

If you wish to have your file reviewed for dependency status, you should complete and forward to the Empire State College financial aid office the documentation of special circumstance dependency status form. You also should submit a letter from a reliable third-party source (doctor, VESID counselor, etc.) on their letterhead that explains in detail the unusual circumstance that exists in your situation that would warrant changing your dependency status. In addition to explaining your unusual circumstance in detail, the letter should indicate the length of time that you have been living independently and how you supported yourself in 2018, 2019 and (estimated) 2020. Submit the materials with your 2020-2021 FAFSA. Since you are claiming independence, do not complete the parental information on the FAFSA. If you fail to meet the independence criteria, you will be notified by the financial aid office that you must correct your FAFSA to add parental data in order for your eligibility to be determined.

Please submit the above-noted documentation two months prior to your expected date of enrollment. Questions regarding dependent status for TAP should be directed to the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation at 888-NYS-HESC.

2020-2021 Dependency Review Form (PDF 56kB)

Contact Us


Fax: 518-580-4863

Mailing Address: 
Empire State College
Financial Aid
111 West Ave.
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Questions? Contact the Student Information Center at 518-587-2100 or 800-847-3000.


Code: 010286
Name: SUC Empire State College

TAP Codes

Undergraduate Associate: 0916

Undergraduate Bachelor's: 0913

Graduate: 5680 (for graduate students applying for Veteran Tuition Awards)


If you are attending the spring 2020 term, the deadline to have all financial aid applications, additional financial aid requirements/documents and appeals submitted and any student loans accepted was December 6, 2019 in order ensure the processing of your aid eligibility by the spring payment deadline.

For students planning to enroll beginning in May 2020 or thereafter, the 2020-2021 FAFSA application is now available to complete.

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the PDF files on this site. If Acrobat Reader is not installed on your computer, you can download it for free from Adobe's site. If you are still unable to view the file, please contact us at financialaid@esc.edu or call 800-847-3000.

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