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How to fill out the FAFSA if you are an emancipated minor

Student studies in a library cafe
Tashdique Mehtaj Ahmed/Getty Images
Student studies in a library cafe
Tashdique Mehtaj Ahmed/Getty Images
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Prospective college students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to receive federal, state and some institutional aid. While many students must include information about their parents’ finances, emancipated minors do not. If you qualify as an emancipated minor, you’ll be able to skip a few steps in the FAFSA and may also qualify for more aid.

Who qualifies as an emancipated minor on the FAFSA?

Emancipation is a legal process that allows minors to legally separate themselves from their parents, removing shelter, food and clothing obligations from parents and giving the minor the right to choose things like their own medical care and education.

The FAFSA automatically considers anyone under the age of 24 a dependent student, but emancipated minors are considered independent. For the purposes of the FAFSA, an emancipated minor is someone who has been legally deemed an adult by their state as of the date of the application or immediately before they became an adult in their state. This process varies by state but generally requires the minor to prove that they can provide for themselves financially and make independent decisions.

Because emancipated minors are legally separated from their parents, they no longer have to provide their parents’ information on the FAFSA.

How to fill out the FAFSA if you’re an emancipated minor

If you’re an emancipated minor, you will not have to fill out income information for your parents on the FAFSA. Once you’ve started filling out your FAFSA, you’ll answer “yes” to the question that asks whether you’re an emancipated minor. This will allow you to skip Step Four of the application.

If you’re currently legally residing in a state that is different than the state you were emancipated in, you can still answer yes if the court was located in your state of legal residence at the time the court’s decision was issued.

Do you get more financial aid if you’re an emancipated minor?

When you’re an emancipated minor, only your income and assets are considered on the FAFSA — not your parents’ income and assets. Because you don’t have to factor their finances into your application, you may qualify for more aid than a dependent student.

With that said, if the parents you were emancipated from had no income and you had to earn a large income to support yourself, being legally emancipated may not make a huge difference in your financial aid package.

Written by
Rae Hartley Beck
Contributing writer
Rae Hartley Beck is a writer and editor with over eight years of experience in personal finance. Her work has most recently appeared in Bankrate, MoneyWise and Investopedia. Rae specializes in credit card rewards, investing, real estate, home improvement, lending and financial advice for millennials, Gen Z, Gen Alpha and their parents.
Edited by
Student loans editor