Will You Get More Financial Aid as an Independent Student?

Will You Get More Financial Aid as an Independent Student?

As a college-bound highschool graduate or the guardian of a student making use of to high schools, chances are you’ll surprise if unbiased students get extra monetary help, like student loans, than dependent students.

Overall, the reply is not any, though some Department of Education (DOE) packages present extra money to unbiased students than dependent ones.

Dependent vs. Independent Students

Many college-bound students match the necessities of dependent students. These are younger adults between the ages of 18 and 24 who’re current highschool graduates, nonetheless depend on their mother and father’ monetary assist, and usually are not married. When most individuals take into consideration a student pursuing an affiliate or bachelor’s diploma, that’s the profile they consider.

However, extra unbiased students are enrolling in school. The job market more and more requires training past a highschool diploma or GED, and older adults who could have dropped out of faculty or accomplished an affiliate diploma fairly than a four-year diploma are returning to highschool after working for just a few years. Independent students are those that don’t depend on their mother and father for monetary assist. 

How Do Independent Students Get More Financial Aid?

The DOE makes use of a number of elements to find out whether or not students qualify for monetary help. One a part of the calculation for student loans is dependency standing, however that is the one program that makes use of this info straight.


As an unbiased student, you might have decrease revenue and fewer property, which may not directly influence your FAFSA info. 

Fill Out the FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an utility that you just and/or your mother and father or guardians fill out and undergo the federal authorities, so the DOE can decide which sorts of monetary help you qualify for. Your FAFSA quantity relies on a mathematical equation from two sources:

  • Expected household contribution (EFC): This is the revenue and property you or your loved ones can spend in your training. If you’re a dependent student, this info predominantly comes from your loved ones. If you’re an unbiased student, that is your personal info. 
  • Cost of attendance (COA): This is the price of attending a school, college, commerce college, or skilled college that you just listed in your FAFSA.
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The DOE subtracts your EFC from the COA to create your FAFSA quantity. This info is shipped to every college you checklist in your FAFSA (as much as 10 colleges at a time). Each college then creates monetary help award packages so that you can go together with your acceptance letter, in the event that they settle for your utility.

As an unbiased student, you might have fewer property and revenue than the mixed monetary energy of your mother and father. You could also be youthful however working at a full-time job. You could have money owed of your personal, and you might have a partner and dependent kids of your personal.

All this info impacts your EFC as an unbiased student, so that you most likely qualify for extra monetary help than some dependent students. Still, this isn’t assured. You ought to fill out the FAFSA it doesn’t matter what, so you may get monetary help info.

Types of federal monetary help awarded by way of the FAFSA embrace: 

  • Pell Grants. After you fill out the FAFSA, your monetary info signifies whether or not you qualify for the federal Pell Grant program. Pell Grants are most frequently awarded to undergraduate students based mostly on monetary want, however some skilled or postbaccalaureate students additionally obtain this cash.

    As of the 2019–20 college yr, you may obtain as much as $6,195 per yr in your training. This is just not calculated straight in your dependency standing, although being unbiased can have an effect on your private funds. Almost 90% of Pell Grant recipients don’t dwell with their mother and father, and 66% reportedly have dependents of their very own.

  • Direct student loans. Both backed and unsubsidized loans by way of the direct loans program provide monetary help to students attending postsecondary college. Subsidized loans go to students with vital monetary want, whereas a wider vary of students qualify for unsubsidized loans.

    Unlike the Pell Grant, each sorts of loans within the federal direct loan program range in quantity based mostly on whether or not you’re a dependent or unbiased student. For instance:

    • First-year undergraduate students: Dependent students can take out as a lot as $5,500 ($3,500 of which could be backed loans), whereas unbiased students can take out $9,500, with the identical quantity in backed loans. 
    • Second-year undergraduate students: Dependent students can borrow as much as $6,500, whereas unbiased students can borrow $10,500. 
    • Third-year undergrads and past: Dependent students qualify for $7,500 in loans, whereas unbiased students qualify for as much as $12,500 in loans. 
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Graduate students are thought of unbiased, so everybody can take out as much as $20,500 in unsubsidized loans, with none backed loans, per yr. 

Should You Become an Independent Student to Get More Financial Aid Help?

Research reveals that about half of students attending undergraduate packages are unbiased, and lots of have dependents of their very own, comparable to kids and spouses. Among unbiased students, most are the primary of their households to attend this stage of upper training. Many took years off from college after getting their highschool diploma so they might work and assist a bigger household unit, together with mother and father and youthful siblings.

More unbiased students are folks of shade, current immigrants or from immigrant households, or from abusive household conditions who emancipated themselves.

While emancipation out of your mother and father is one path to turning into an unbiased student, it isn’t inherently worthwhile in your monetary help utility. There are a number of complicating elements within the FAFSA.

If your mother and father offer you any monetary assist in any respect, however you’re an unbiased student, your EFC quantity may very well be a lot greater than when you remained a dependent student. Most students qualify for a number of types of monetary help, from need-based grants to merit-based scholarships to student loans.

You could not qualify for a similar quantity of monetary help yearly, however taking up just a little extra in student loans one yr, or discovering exterior scholarships or work alternatives, will help you make up the distinction. Private student loans are an effective way for a lot of school students, each dependent and unbiased, to make up small gaps of their training prices.

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Private student loans don’t depend on FAFSA info, however in your credit rating, so you may get a greater deal on a few of these.