PEDAR: Executive Summary Independent Undergraduates: 1999-2000
Who Are Independent Students?
Demographic Characteristics of Independent Students
Independent Status by Age, Class Level, and Family Responsibilities
Education Financing
Financial Aid by Type of Institution
Research Methodology
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)
Independent Status by Age, Class Level, and Family Responsibilities

This study found that the youngest (younger than age 24) and the oldest (age 30 or older) independent students were more likely than not to have family responsibilities (figure C). Independent students younger than age 24 were more likely to have family responsibilities (90 percent) than their counterparts in the older age groups because this is mainly how they qualify for independent status. Those between 24 and 29 were the least likely to have any family responsibilities (51 percent vs. 11-23 percent). Students age 30 or older were the most likely group to be married with children (40 percent) (figure 5).

As with age, class level was related directly to independent status, among students enrolled in 4-year institutions. As students progressed to higher class levels, they were more likely to be older and to be married. About one-fourth (26 percent) of freshmen and sophomores were independent students, but among college seniors, about one-half (49 percent) were independent (table 5). Seniors were also the group with the largest percentage of independent students who were single and had no dependents (20 percent) because they were able to qualify on the basis of age alone.

Compared with dependent students, independent students age 24 or older who had no family responsibilities (that is, they were single with no dependents) were more likely to have characteristics that define nontraditional students. They appeared to be more self-sufficient than dependent students as they were more likely to work full time while enrolled (57 percent vs. 22 percent) (table 6b). They were also more likely to attend part time (81 percent vs. 42 percent), to enroll at a public 2-year institution (54 percent vs. 34 percent), and to have delayed their enrollment after high school (65 percent vs. 24 percent).

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