Independent Student Definition

Federal Definition of an Independent Student

  • The student must be 24 years of age by December 31 of the award year.
  • The student is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces in active service and was released under a condition other than dishonorable/or were a National Guard or Reserves enlistee who served in Operation Desert Shield/Storm and were discharged from active duty.
  • The student is a graduate or professional student.
  • The student is married at the time of application for federal student aid funds.
  • The student is a ward of the court or both parents are deceased.
  • The student has legal dependents (other than a spouse). This is defined as any children who get more than half of their support from the student. It also includes other people who live with the student and get more than half of their support from the student, and will continue to get that support during the upcoming school year.
  • The student is an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence.
  • The student has been determined to be an unaccompanied youth who is homeless.

Whitman Definition of an Independent Student

Whitman College will use the federal definition of an independent student with two exceptions:

  • Married students: In most cases, when the student comes to Whitman College as a married student, we will treat the student as independent. However, Whitman College reserves the right to treat the student as dependent for its own scholarship funds depending upon individual circumstances.

    For students who come to Whitman College as single, dependent students, and who marry while in attendance, the College will continue to treat them as dependent.
  • Emancipated minors: Must show documentation regarding extenuating circumstances. Please contact the office of financial aid services for more information.
  • Adopted Students: Students who have been adopted, regardless of the age at adoption will be considered dependent for purposes of applying for financial aid at Whitman College. Parental income and asset information must be submitted on the CSS Profile, even if it is determined it need not be provided on the FAFSA.