What's the difference between an independent student and a dependent student?

What's the difference between an independent student and a dependent student?

The U.S. Department of Education defines an independent student as someone who meets at least one of the following criteria:

  • At least 24 years old;
  • Married;
  • A veteran or member of the U.S. armed forces;
  • An orphan;
  • A ward of the court;
  • Someone with legal dependents other than a spouse.

There are additional criteria established by the Department of Education that may allow a student to be designated independent. Consult the worksheet on the FAFSA website to determine your status or for more information.