When completing the lengthy process of applying for scholarships or grants, a student may question their status. If they pay for school themselves, then are they emancipated from the financial restraints of their family? Before applying, you should understand if you are an independent or dependent student and how to prove it.

What Qualifies as an Emancipated Student?

An independent or emancipated student has quite a lot of options to consider to gain entry into college with scholarships and grants to allow them to stay and complete their endeavor through to graduation. The typical emancipation definition is someone who is freed from a legal, political or social situation without restrictions. The federal government takes a student’s parents or legal guardian’s financial status into account when considering them for federal funds to pay for college. Dependent students have family that can assumedly afford to pay for college, whether they actually do or not. Independent students do not have that luxury.

FAFSA Independent

For a student to be considered FAFSA independent, they must meet a few criteria, such as homelessness, have legal dependents other than a spouse and be a ward of the court or an orphan. A graduate student, married individual, veteran or serving military member should be 24 years of age by the end of the award year or receive documented determination of independence by a financial aid administrator. Emancipation for financial aid begins with a Dependency Review form.

Pell Grants for Emancipated Minors

The benefits of a Pell grant are that it is free and clear, unlike a student loan for college. If you have and can prove a financial need, a Pell grant may be available for you. Pell grant students are undergraduates, enrolled or have accepted enrollment at an eligible degree institution or certificate program, has a high school diploma or equivalent and is a U.S. citizen or otherwise eligible noncitizen. The maximum Pell grant award is a little under $6,000. The amount is dependent on a few things, such as your financial need and amount of time you are attending college during the year, either full-time or part-time. Pell grants are paid to you through the college depending on how they set it up. It can be direct deposit, cash or a check. The college will notify you in writing of how and when they will pay you. They legally have to distribute the funds to you at least twice per academic year. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and check with the college or program you are in or accepted to about the deadline for the FAFSA.

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