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FAFSA Updated to Accommodate Same-Sex Parentage

The changes to FAFSA are considered a step forward for the LGBTQ community.

Elizabeth Hoyt

September 29, 2017

FAFSA Updated to Accommodate Same-Sex Parentage
Progression has reached federal student aid as news that the FAFSA form will now recognize parents that are also same-sex couples. Currently, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid referred to “mother/stepmother” and “father/stepfather” in reference to obtaining information about an applicant’s parents. As a result, applicants with same-sex parents had no choice but to either choose to classify parents at random in the “mother” and “father” categories or exclude one parent from the form all together.

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This creates problems because the children of same sex parents are forced to create applications where their family structure is not correctly represented, thus making the form inaccurate. Students will be able to accurately claim their financial status and reflect their true financial needs since both parents will be represented on the form. Beginning on the 2014-2015 FAFSA form, applicants will be able to accurately list their parentage under “Parent 1” and “Parent 2,” marking the first time that the department will be collecting data for same-sex parents the same way as heterosexual parents.

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In a press release, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated that the form changes would, “ensure taxpayer dollars are better targeted toward those students who have the most need” and “provide an inclusive form that reflects the diversity of American families.” Duncan also stated that the percentage of affected families or the monetary amount resulting from any award reductions were not taken into consideration when deciding to update the FAFSA form. “We don’t know whether it will cost more or less. We just think it’s more accurate, more inclusive, more fair, and better reflects the reality of young people’s family circumstances,” said Duncan.

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The change allowing all families to be treated equally on the document will also ensure that the process is not delayed for students that are children of same-sex parents, which has been an issue in the past. In addition, this change will likely lead to progression throughout the entire financial aid system, since many organizations, non-profits and government agencies create their applications while referencing the well-known FAFSA document. While only a small percentage of applicants will be affected, the April 29th announcement was a huge step forward, as far as the LGBTQ community is concerned, even though it could actually reduce the amount of aid granted to children of same-sex couples because both parents’ income will be eligible for consideration.

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