When it comes to applying for financial aid, there is one major question that university students must answer: are you an independent or a dependent student? The answer will determine how much financial aid you are eligible for and the types of assistance available. So, what exactly is the difference between independent and dependent status? Let’s take a look.

What is a Dependent Student?

A dependent student is someone who relies on their parents or guardians for financial support. Most college-aged students are considered dependents and must include their parent’s information on their financial aid application. Parents must also provide documents such as tax returns, business records, and other forms of income verification when filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)


What Is an Independent Student? 

An independent student is someone who does not rely on their parents or guardians for financial support. To be classified as an independent student, you must meet certain criteria set by the US Department of Education. These criteria include at least one of the following:

  • 24 years or older
  • Married
  • Veteran or a member of the armed forces
  • Orphan, ward of the court or emancipated minor
  • Have legal dependents other than a spouse
  • Homeless or at risk of becoming homeless
  • Graduate or professional student
Independent students may qualify for more need-based aid than dependent students because they have fewer resources available to them. 



Understanding the difference between independent and dependent status can help make applying for financial aid at Lionel University less confusing and overwhelming. Knowing which status applies to you will ensure that you get access to all the resources necessary to fund your education. Keep in mind that if your dependency status changes during your college career, it is important to update your FAFSA so that you can continue receiving the right amount of assistance throughout your studies.

Knowing what financial aid options are available to you can make earning your exercise science degree even more of a possibility. And there are so many fitness job opportunities that you’ll be able to explore once you have a degree in exercise science. In fact, earning an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree, will all put you in demand for jobs. Regardless of which degree you are pursuing, at Lionel, you earn multiple certifications and specializations along the way. This means you can start working as a fitness professional even before graduation day! 

Check out our programs and contact Lionel today!