Independent Students may file a FAFSA, the government's Free Application for Student Aid. The FAFSA allows students to request federal aid in the form of subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans, grants, scholarships and work-study. The student's financial need will be looked at, as well as the school's tuition price. This will determine what they will receive from the government in aid. According to FAFSA, students who are not claimed as a dependent by their parents may be independent. These students are responsible, financially, for themselves. Contrary to a popular misunderstanding debunked by Fast Web's Independent Student, students cannot simply be eligible for the status of independent. They must first fit the criteria on the FAFSA site.
The Pell Grant
Apply for the Pell Grant. Independent students are eligible and encouraged to apply for this grant. According to the Pell Grant, the program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain post-baccalaureate students to promote access to post-secondary education. Grants are given to those who show exceptional financial need---like most independents. Also factored in to how much a student may receive is his or her enrollment status (full-time students will receive more) and the cost of attendance.
Independent students can find several scholarships and grants at both Fast Web and Scholarships.com. These sites are designed to allow students of independent and dependent status to search for funds according to student status, enrollment, financial need and academic interest. These sites include corporate and private scholarship and grant information, as well as contact guidelines and the money amounts being given to students who apply.
It is a good idea to meet with a financial aid adviser at the student's university or college to discuss the independent status and any financial need. Schools often have funds for students who show academic or financial need. Sometimes asking the school directly or appealing the financial aid offer letter—to ask for more money—may result in additional aid.
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