If you’re in this situation, not all is lost - though you’ve lost out on the main ways to get more money for college.
Dependent students can still file the FAFSA if their parents refuse to share their financial information. After you have filled out the FAFSA sections that are relevant to your financial information, there will be an option on the FAFSA where you can select that you are unable to provide information about your parents.
The FAFSA will then ask you if you have a special circumstance preventing you from providing parental information. The acceptable circumstances are very limited. Special circumstances include if your parents are incarcerated, or you have left home due to an abusive family environment. It is not sufficient if your parents simply refuse to provide their information or do not intend to support you during school. If you do not have a qualifying special circumstance, you can still submit the FAFSA - but you should be aware of the consequences.
Failing to provide parental information will prevent you from receiving consideration for many forms of financial aid, because the government will not provide you with an EFC. As a dependent student without parent information on the FAFSA, the only federal aid you may be considered for are unsubsidized loans. These loans are not guaranteed, and the decision to provide these loans (and the amount) is at the discretion of each school. Your FAFSA can still be sent to the schools where you apply, but every school handles this situation differently.
What Should I Do if I Fill Out the FAFSA Without My Parents’ Financial Information?
If you do submit your FAFSA without your parents’ information, you should follow up as soon as you can with the financial aid offices of your potential colleges. You may be asked to provide supporting documentation about why you can’t complete that section of the form - for example, a written statement from your parents stating they refuse to provide information.
If My Parents Refuse to Share Their Financial Information am I an Independent Student?
Your parents refusal to share their financial information does not make you an independent student. To be considered an independent student, you will need to be: at least 24 years old, married, a graduate or professional student, a veteran, a member of the armed forces, an orphan, a ward of the court, someone with legal dependents other than a spouse, an emancipated minor, or someone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless (Federal Student Aid, 2018).