To be eligible for certain financial, child-care and housing benefits while attending college, you may be required to prove your independence from your parents. In most cases, students under the age of 23, who are neither married nor have dependents of their own, must include financial information from their parents when they fill out college forms. Those 23 or older or who have married, had children, left a public care program, such as the foster system, at age 18 or meet one of the other seven criteria of independence, may apply for benefits as an independent student.

Make photocopies of documentation that shows you meet the criteria for independent students. This might include your birth certificate, a marriage certificate, birth certificates for children, proof of orphan or former ward of the court status, proof of veteran status from the U.S. military or proof of progress toward a graduate degree.

Find the address for your school's financial aid department.

Draft your letter. Begin with your name, address, telephone number and email address in the upper left hand corner of your word processing document. If you know your student identification number, include that as well. Skip a line, then enter the department of address for financial aid at your school. Skip a line, then type the date. Skip another line, then type a greeting to a specific financial aid officer. You may also use a generic business greeting, such as "Dear Sir or Madam."

Open the letter by outlining your desire to be considered an independent student. Detail the reasons you feel you are eligible.

List the documentation you are including in your letter as proof of independent status.

Type a closing and you name at the end of the letter. Type the word "enclosure(s)" two lines below your name to indicate that you are including photocopies of your documentation.


If your parents do not contribute to your educational expenses and you wish to be considered independent for that reason, make an appointment to speak to a financial aid counselor. He can help you find additional sources of financial aid.


Be sure to include photocopies of your documentation and not the originals.

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