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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?

About one-half (51 percent) of all independent students were age 30 or older; one-third (33 percent) were between ages 24 and 29; and 16 percent were younger than age 24 (table 2a). Among the youngest group, 90 percent were married, had dependents of their own, or both (table 4). Six percent of the independent students younger than age 24 did not meet any of the criteria for independence defined in the Higher Education Act, and were presumably determined to be independent by the professional judgment of a financial aid officer (table 1a).

One-half (50 percent) came from families where neither parent had attended college, compared with 27 percent of dependent students who were first-generation students (table 2a). Nearly 60 percent of independent students were women, compared with 53 percent of dependent students; independent students were also less likely to be White (64 percent vs. 71 percent) and more likely to be Black (15 percent vs. 9 percent).

Independent students who were enrolled part time or for only part of the academic year were more likely than full-time independent students to have many of the characteristics of nontraditional students.2 Compared with full-time independent students, part-time independent students were more likely to be age 30 or older (55 percent vs. 35 percent), to be married (47 percent vs. 38 percent), and to work full time while enrolled (65 percent vs. 30 percent). Part-time independent students also were more likely to have delayed their entry into postsecondary education after high school (69 percent vs. 59 percent) and to have parents with only a high school education or less (51 percent vs. 45 percent).

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