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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
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Executive Summary (PDF)
Who Are Independent Students?

Just over one-half (52 percent) of all undergraduates were independent students in 1999-2000 (figure 1). That year, they represented roughly two-thirds of community college students (64 percent) and part-time students (67 percent) (figures 3 and 1, respectively). The educational and life circumstances of independent students must be analyzed separately from those of dependent students because independent students have far more family and work responsibilities. In 1999-2000, about one-half (53 percent) had dependents (figure 4), including one-fourth who were single parents (figure 5). (By definition, dependent students are not married and do not have dependents of their own.) Fifty-eight percent of independent students were employed full time while enrolled, compared with 22 percent of dependent students (figure B). The majority (80 percent) of independent students were enrolled part time, in comparison with 42 percent of dependent students. About two-thirds (67 percent) of independent students and about one-fourth (24 percent) of dependent students had delayed 1 year or more after high school before starting postsecondary education; independent students were also less likely than dependent students to have earned a high school diploma (88 percent vs. 97 percent) (table 2a). All of these characteristics have been identified as risk factors for persistence in postsecondary education (Horn and Premo 1995). Without adequate financial and academic support, these responsibilities and risk factors can become obstacles to educational success.

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