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Dependent Student
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Welcome to ACT's Financial Aid Need Estimator!

This free service can help you plan more effectively to meet college costs. The Financial Aid Need Estimator estimates what your family might expect to pay toward college costs and provides you with the basic costs of attendance at specific institutions. There are three steps to the process:

Step 1—Indicate if you are financially dependent or independent.
Based on your answers to the dependency questions at the bottom of this page, you will select Dependent or Independent.

Step 2—Learn how much you might expect to pay toward college costs.
Next, you will enter your financial information. The Financial Aid Need Estimator will use your data to calculate how much you may be expected to pay toward college costs. This figure will be the same for any college you may consider attending.

Step 3—Learn how much it might cost you to attend different colleges.
Finally, you will select a state and college and specify if you will live at home or on campus. The Financial Aid Need Estimator will then calculate and display the estimated costs of attending the selected institution.

Selecting another institution: From the Results page, you may select a different college without having to start over or re-enter your personal information. The calculations for subsequent colleges that you select will replace the previous results.

Your Privacy

To protect and ensure your privacy, the Financial Aid Need Estimator does not ask you to identify yourself and does not retain any of the information that you enter.


  • The Financial Aid Need Estimator is not a substitute for a federally approved financial aid application. To apply for financial aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (opens new window).
  • The Financial Aid Need Estimator does not provide the official results used by postsecondary educational institutions to award student aid. Official results come from the federal government. The estimated costs that are displayed on this site, however, have been calculated by the same federal financial aid formula used by the federal government to calculate the official results.
  • The accuracy of the estimate that you receive will depend on the accuracy of the information you provide.
  • Results apply to U.S. Citizens: Because international students are not eligible for federal need-based financial aid programs, results from the Financial Aid Need Estimator will apply only to students who are U.S. citizens.
  • Service Members' Survivors (Iraq/Afghanistan): At present the results provided by the Financial Aid Need Estimator do not include any financial aid adjustments for qualifying students who have lost a parent or guardian as a result of service in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11/01.

General Instructions

  • Complete all questions:
    Please fill out the form as completely as possible. Wherever you do not provide an answer, the Estimator will automatically enter a "0". In some cases, this may affect the accuracy of the estimate you receive.
    • Do not leave fields blank. If a value is zero, enter "0".
    • Round all figures to the nearest dollar. Do NOT enter the cents amount.
    • For the most accurate results, use the most recent income tax information or estimated current-year values.
  • Time required to obtain results: It usually takes less than 10 minutes to enter your information and receive your results if you have all the necessary information at hand. To decrease the time required, you may wish to print out the Independent or Dependent pages that follow, collect all the information you need, and then return to this site to enter your data.
  • JavaScript: If your browser does not support JavaScript, some data entry edits will not occur; however, the calculation results will still be correct.

Dependency Questions

To determine your dependency status, please answer the following questions:

  1. Were you born before January 1, 1989?
  2. As of today, are you married? (Answer "Yes" if you are separated but not divorced.)
  3. At the beginning of the upcoming academic year, will you be working on a master's or a graduate certificate (earning degree credits beyond a bachelor's degree)?
  4. Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
    • NOTE: Individuals serving in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training are considered independent students.
  5. Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
    • Answer Yes if you will become a veteran by June 30, 2013
    • Answer No if you have never served in the Armed Forces or if you are currently serving and will continue to serve through June 30, 2013.
  6. Do you have children who receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013?
  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?
  8. At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
  9. Are you or were you an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
  10. At any time on or after July 1, 2011, did any of the following persons determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
    • High school or school district homeless liaison
    • Director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
    • Director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program

If you answered "Yes" to any question, choose "Independent" below.

If you answered "No" to all questions, choose "Dependent" below.

My dependency status is:

I answered "No" to all questions.
I answered "Yes" to one or more questions.