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College application independence: what does it mean to be an independent?

I've heard the term 'independent' thrown around a lot in the college application process, but I'm not exactly sure what it means. Can someone explain what an independent is in this context?

7 months ago

Being an "independent" in the college application process typically refers to the financial aspect and how it affects your eligibility for financial aid. An independent student is one who meets certain criteria, which allows them to apply for financial aid without considering their parents' income and assets. This is often advantageous for students who come from low-income families or have strained relationships with their parents.

To be considered an independent student for the purposes of financial aid, you must meet at least one of the following criteria:

1. Be at least 24 years old by December 31 of the award year

2. Be married or separated (but not divorced)

3. Have children or dependents for whom you provide more than half of their financial support

4. Be an orphan or a ward of the court, or have emancipated minor status

5. Be a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or currently serving on active duty

6. Be working towards a master's or doctoral degree (graduate and professional students are automatically considered independent)

It's important to note that being independent for college applications and financial aid is not the same as being declared independent for tax purposes. Additionally, just because you support yourself and live separately from your parents, it does not automatically qualify you as an independent student for financial aid purposes. Specific criteria must be met.

For more information click here: https://finaid.org/about/contact/fafsa-independent-student/

Lastly, keep in mind that even if you are an independent student, some colleges might still require parental information for their own institutional financial aid or scholarships. You should always research the specific requirements and policies at each college you are applying to.

7 months ago

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