Independent Student Status

independent student studyingIn this day and age, having a college degree is almost requisite for most careers. Unfortunately many Americans find it hard to afford a higher education. However, the federal government provides students with a number of aid packages to help offset the high cost of education. These aid options include loans, grants and work-study programs. These packages are awarded based on financial need, academic performance, or a combination of the two.

The amount and type of aid a student receives is determined by the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA collects financial details of each applicant and their parents, including tax information, income statements and other relevant data. This information is used to calculate the financial need of a student and their eligibility for financial aid or independent student status.

The contribution expected from a student’s family (Expected Family Contribution or EFC) directly affects the amount of aid he or she receives. A student is considered independent if there is no family contribution. Students having independent status are generally eligible for more aid as compared to the students who receive a family contribution. In order to apply for financial aid, students are required to fill out the FAFSA, which is available online at

Requirements for Independent Status

In order to be considered for independent student status, applicants must meet certain requirements. Applicants who are 24 years of age or older, or enrolled in a professional program, or a degree beyond a bachelor’s program, are eligible to apply for independent student status. Students who are veterans of the US Armed Forces or are serving on active duty and those who have children or other dependents, can also apply.

A dependent student can have their status changed to independent under certain circumstances. This will require supporting documentation, verification of a student’s or family’s financial need and referrals. The school where a student is enrolled has the authority to reassess his or her student status.

Alternative Financial Aid

While students with independent status receive higher awards as compared to other applicants, these awards may not be sufficient to cover all expenses at college. In this case, you can apply for a private student loan. By using the Student Loan Comparison Tool on our website you can view key information about the different private loans on offer and select one that best suits your needs. That means you can borrow more effectively and more affordably.

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Miscellaneous Financial Aid Topics