FAFSA Common Questions

Am I Dependent or Independent?

The online form requires signatures of the student and the parent (if the student is considered dependent). The following thirteen questions are asked on the FAFSA to determine the student's status as a dependent (requiring parental information) or an independent student. If the student can answer "yes" to at least one question below, he/she is considered independent. For the 2015-16 FAFSA, the questions are the following:

    1. Were you born before January 1, 1992?
    2. As of the date you filed the FAFSA, are you married? (Answer “Yes” if you are separated but not divorced.)
    3. At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD or graduate certification, etc.)?
    4. Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
    5. Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
    6. Do you have children who receive more than half of their support from you between 07/01/15 and 06/30/16? NOTE: If you are not independent by age, or married you must be able to prove that you support yourself 1005 and your child(ren) at least 51% or more to be considered independent.
    7. Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2016? 
    8. At any time since you turned age 13, were both of your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
    9. Are you currently or were you (before you turned 18) an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your current state of residence or your state of legal residence at the time you received the determination?
    10. Are you currently or were you (before you turned 18) in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your current state of residence or your state of legal residence at the time you received the determination?
    11. On or after July 1, 2014, do you have a written determination that you were homeless or at risk of being homeless?

If you have answered "yes" to any of the above questions, you are considered independent. Please keep in mind we may require additional clarification or documentation once we recieve your FAFSA.

Common Questions Descriptions

Question 4 (above): Active Duty

Answer "Yes" if you:

  • are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces
  • or are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee who is on active duty for other than state or training purposes.

Answer "No" if you:

  • are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee who is on active duty for state or training purposes.

Question 5 (above): Veteran

Answer "Yes" (you are a veteran) if you:

  • have engaged in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard)
  • or are a National Guard or Reserve enlistee who was called to active duty for purposes other than training,
  • or were a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies,
  • and were released under a condition other than dishonorable.
  • Also answer "Yes" if you are not a veteran now but will be one by June 30, 2014.

Answer "No" (you are not a veteran) if you:

  • have never engaged in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces,
  • are currently an ROTC student or cadet or midshipman at a service academy, or
  • are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee activated only for training.
  • Also answer "No" if you are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces and will continue to serve through June 30, 2014.

Question 8, 9, or 10 (above): Deceased parents, foster care, ward of the court:

Answer "Yes" if you:

  • had no living parent (biological or adoptive) when you were age 13 or older, even if you are now adopted
  • if you were in foster care when you were age 13 or older, even if you are no longer in foster care as of today.
  • if you were a dependent/ward of the court when you were age 13 or older, even if you are no longer a dependent/ward of the court as of today.

NOTE: You WILL be required to provide documentation that you were in foster care, a dependent/ward of the court, or that both of your parents are deceased.

Question 11 (above): Emancipated minor:

Answer "Yes" if you:

  • can provide a copy of a court's decision that you are an emancipated minor

NOTE: The court must be located in your state of legal residence.

Answer "No" if the:

  • above does not apply OR if the court order is no longer in effect.

NOTE: You WILL be required to provide documentation from the courts to show you are an emancipated minor.

Question 12 (above): Legal guardianship

Answer "Yes" if you:

  • can provide a copy of a court's decision that you are in "legal guardianship".

NOTE: The court must be located in your state of legal residence. The court documents must reference "legal guardian" and not refer only to custody.  The federal law indicates that you must be in legal guardianship, which means that your documentation from the courts must state that someone has been appointed as  your guardian, legal guardian, or that you are in legal guardianship.  It cannot only refer to custody, legal custody, joint custody, or physical custody.

Answer "No" if the:

  • above does not apply OR if the court order is no longer in effect.
NOTE: You WILL be required to provide documentation from the courts to show you are in legal guardianship.

Question Requirements

Delays in processing your FAFSA by the Department of Education will occur if you do not respond to all of the questions or obtain the signatures required on the FAFSA (electronic or paper). In order for the Office of Financial Aid to process your financial aid award accurately and efficiently, there are several questions on the FAFSA that will require your attention. Those questions are listed below, along with advice for their responses:

Your email address

If you provide an email address, the processor will correspond with you electronically. Leave blank to receive information through the U.S. Postal Service.


Degree or Certificate you will be working on during 2015-16

  • 1st Bachelor's Degree (For students seeking a FIRST bachelor's degree)
  • 2nd Bachelor's Degree [For students returning seeking a SECOND bachelor's degree (meaning you have already earned a first bachelor's degree)]
  • Associate Degree (occupational or technical program)
  • Associate degree (general education)
  • Certificate or diploma (occupational, technical, or educational program of less than two years)
  • Certificate or diploma (occupational, technical, or educational program of two or more years)
    •          For students seeking a Post Baccalaureate Certification
  • Teaching Credential (non-degree program)
  • Graduate or professional degree (For students seeking a Master's Degree)
  • Other/undecided


Grade Level:

  • Never attended college/1st year (for first time students)
  • Attended college before/1st year (students who have previously enrolled and have 0 - 29.9 credits earned)
  • 2nd year (30 - 59.9 credits earned)
  • 3rd year (60 - 89.9 credits earned)
  • 4th year (90+ credits earned)
  • 5th year, Post Baccalaureate Certification, 2nd Degree
    • (students seeking Post Baccalaureate Certification)
  • Graduate Student (first year)
    • (Master's degree students in their first year)
  • Graduate student (after first year)
    • (Master's degree students who have completed their first year and are continuing)

Other Common Question Requirement Mistakes

Were you convicted of a drug offense while receiving federal student aid?

  • Do NOT leave this item blank. Failure to respond = NO Federal Student Aid (including loans).

Student income tax for 2014 / Parents' income tax for 2014:

  • This is the amount of taxes paid, not withheld. Be sure to use the correct line from your tax forms: (1040 - line 56, 1040A - line 35, 1040EZ - line 10)
  • NOTE: If you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, this information will be transferred correctly from the IRS.

Grant and scholarship aid reported to the IRS:

Only put an amount down if you claimed your scholarships or grants as income on your tax return. 

  • Do NOT put the amount listed on the tax return under the Tuition and Fees deduction (Form 1040 - line 34 or Form 1040a - line 19)
  • Do NOT put the amount listed on the tax return under the Education Credits (Form 1040 - line 49 or Form 1040a - line 31)
  • Do NOT put the amount listed on the 1098-T Form box 5.

School Information

  • You need to list the schools in order of preference. The first school listed is the institution that will recieve information regarding your eligibility for a PHEAA State Grant.
  • MU's School Code is 003325
  • MU's Address is P.O. Box 1002, Millersville, PA 17551

Housing Plans

  • On-campus/dorm
  • Living with parents
  • Off-campus/apartment (any housing that is not with your parents nor billed by Millersville University- includes Shenks Hall & Reighard Hall)

Are you eligible to file a 1040A or 1040EZ?

In general, a person is NOT eligible to file a 1040A or 1040EZ if he or she:

  • Makes $100,000 or more (2014 Form 1040, line 37)
  • Itemize deductions (2014 Form 1040, line 40)
  • Receives income from his or her own business or farm (2014 Form 1040, lines 12 or 18)
  • Receives alimony (2014 Form 1040, line 11)

Information regarding assets:

  • Net worth means current value minus debt. If net worth is one million dollars or more, enter $999,999. If net worth is negative, enter 0.

Investments include:

  • Real estate (do not include the home you live in), trust funds, UGMA and UTMA accounts, money market funds, mutual funds, certificates of deposits, stocks, stock options, bonds, other securities, installment and land sale contracts (including mortgages held), commodities, etc.
  • Qualified educational benefits or education savings accounts such as Coverdell savings accounts, 529 college savings plans and the refund value of 529 prepaid tuition plans.
    • For a student who does not report parental information, the accounts owned by the student (and the student's spouse) are reported as student investments.
    • For a student who must report parental information, the accounts are reported as parental investments, including all accounts owned by the student and all accounts owned by the parents for any member of the household.

Investments do NOT include:

  • The home you live in, the value of life insurance, retirement plans (401[k] plans, pension funds, annuities, non-education IRAs, Keogh plans, etc.) or cash, savings and checking accounts already reported.

Investment value means:

  • The current balance or market value of these investments as of today.

Investment debt means:

  • Only those debts that are related to the investments.

Business and/or investment farm value includes:

  • The market value of land, buildings, machinery, equipment, inventory, etc. Business and/or investment farm debt means only those debts for which the business or investment farm was used as collateral.


Business value does NOT include:

  • The value of a small business if your family owns and controls more than 50 percent of the business and the business has 100 or fewer full-time or full-time equivalent employees.  For small business value, your family includes (1) persons directly releated to you, such as a parent, sister, or cousin, or (2) persons who are or were related to you by marriage, such as a spouse, stepparnent, or sister-in-law.

Investment farm value does NOT include:

  • The value of a family farm that you (your spouse and/or your parents) live on and operate.