My daughter is 23 years old on 1/1/16 and can file her own FAFSA for ’16-17 undergrad year, however we would still like to claim her on our 2015 tax return as a dependent. Is this legal? If so, how do we go about doing it?

Terry Says: Interesting question — and it forced me to do some research on the topic!  I went to, and here is the link to the page from which I excerpted comments below:

A 23-year-old child is considered to be an independent student on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) if he will reach age 24 by December 31 of the academic year. Otherwise, he is considered to be a dependent student, assuming that he doesn’t satisfy any of the other criteria for independent student status.

Dependency status on the FAFSA and dependency status on federal income tax returns are not the same. Dependency status on the FAFSA is defined by the Higher Education Act of 1965 while dependency status on federal income tax returns is defined by the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. Each statute has different rules.

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