Another criterion for "independence" on the FAFSA is marriage. If students are married on or before the day that they submit their FAFSA, they can claim financial independence in addition to reaping a variety of other tax benefits. However, the government will look at the combined tax information of the couple in order to determine need, so the goal isn't to get a wealthy, temporary spouse. The poorer the couple are, the more likely they are to receive additional financial aid. So a Las Vegas or city hall chapel beckons, and it wouldn't hurt to get hitched to someone who already has a lot of debt and little income (at least, when it comes to a bit of FAFSA "charity").