The following definitions are from the Federal Student Aid Website found here https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out/dependency
This website also includes an explanation of the difference between an "independent" student and a "dependent" student. You can also find information about the different types of Financial Aid, the FAFSA process and information about student loan repayment.
An independent student is one of the following: at least 24 years old, married, a graduate or professional student, a veteran, a member of the armed forces, an orphan, a ward of the court, or someone with legal dependents other than a spouse, an emancipated minor or someone who is currently experiencing homelessness or could become homeless.
A temporary living arrangement for dependent children when their parent(s) or another relative cannot take care of them. This includes, but not limited to, foster family homes, foster homes of relatives (kinship care), group homes, emergency shelters, residential facilities, child care institutions, and pre-adoptive homes.
A student who was placed in the custody of a court appointed guardian as a minor or the court has assumed custody .
A relationship created by court order, through which the court appoints an individual other than a minor's parent to take care of the minor.
An individual (under the age of 18) who has legally been determined to be an adult by a court in their state of legal residence.
A minor that is not living in the physical custody of a parent or legal guardian.