Federal Pell Grants are need-based, so the income of the student' and parents are taken into consideration for this type of financial aid. If you establish yourself as an independent student, your parents' income is not considered when calculating Pell Grant need. You need to meet at least one eligibility requirement for independence or have your school's financial aid office declare you independent based on an unusual circumstance.
Examine the independent student eligibility requirements to see if you already qualify for independent status. The federal government automatically considers you an independent student if you are 24 or older, an orphan, a veteran, married, supporting a child or dependent, a former ward of the state, a former foster child, an emancipated minor or an unaccompanied youth. If you do not fall under one of these eligibility requirements, you must request a dependency review.
Prepare your argument for your independence. Your school's financial aid office determines whether your circumstances warrant an independent status. Each school has its own idea of what an unusual circumstance is, but generally you cannot be declared independent simply because you receive no financial support or tax information from your parents. Financial aid may consider changing you to an independent student if your parents have abused you, are in jail or you are disowned or estranged from your family.
Gather documentation such as bank statements, pay stubs and a lease agreement proving your financial self-sufficiency. Call or visit your financial aid office to discuss your situation with the financial aid officers.
Follow up with the financial aid office after one to two weeks. Ask if the office has changed your dependency status or if you remain a dependent student so you know how much federal student grant money you are entitled to.