Skip Navigation
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)
Education Financing

Independent students are more likely to enroll in lower tuition institutions than dependent students. In 1999-2000, more than one-half (56 percent) of all independent students attended the lowest priced institutions-public 2-year institutions, also known as community colleges (figure 2 and table 9). They were also more likely to choose 4-year institutions that specialized in career-related fields (table 7) and that charged lower tuition than research and doctoral universities (table 10).

Independent students were less likely to apply for financial aid than dependent students (61 percent vs. 71 percent) (table 14), and were less likely to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before the typical May 1 priority deadline for receiving state and institutional grant aid (45 percent vs. 67 percent) (figure E). Late applicants were more likely to enroll at lower cost community colleges part time, and were less likely to be low-income (table 17). Among those who did apply for financial aid, about 85 percent received some type of assistance (table 14). Compared with dependent students, independent students who applied for financial aid were more likely to receive federal Pell Grants (61 percent vs. 34 percent) (table 20), but were less likely to receive state grants (19 percent vs. 24 percent) and institutional grants (15 percent vs. 35 percent) (table 15). Independent students also were less likely to take out a Stafford loan (51 percent vs. 58 percent). However, those who did take out loans borrowed more, on average, than dependent students ($5,500 vs. $3,800) (table 20). This was in part because independent students had higher annual federal student loan limits than dependent students and were more likely to take out a combination of subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans (31 percent vs. 13 percent) (figure F).

Independent students were more likely than dependent students to use a variety of other resources in addition to financial aid to pay for their education. They were more likely than dependent students to receive tuition aid from employers (14 percent vs. 3 percent) and, among those at 4-year institutions, were more likely to claim a Hope or Lifetime Learning federal tax credit (25-26 percent vs. 16-17 percent) (table 21). Also, a greater percentage of independent students carried a credit card balance (46 percent vs. 29 percent), and among those who did so, the average amount of the balance was higher ($3,800 vs. $1,900). This study could not determine, however, the extent to which credit card debt may have been used to finance students' educational expenses.

next section