FAFSA change recognizes same-sex parents

Paola Marizan

With the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) deadline right around the corner, students should be aware the Department of Education made changes to the FAFSA, which could affect students who live in same-sex households.

Millions of students in need of financial assistance fill out the FAFSA every year.

On this year’s application, students can select the “unmarried and both parents living together” option.

Students who live in same-sex households can also add more than one parent to the application. “Mother” and “father” is now “parent 1 (with a father, mother or stepparent option)” and “parent 2 (with a father, mother or stepparent option).”

The changes will not impact the majority of students, according to the Department of Education, but same-sex and unmarried household students could see a decrease in financial aid due to the addition of another parents’s income.

USI Financial Aid Counselor Sean Riley said it is easy-to-read language following the Supreme Court’s June decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited agencies from recognizing same-sex marriages.

“In terms of the FAFSA itself, that’s really the only change,” Riley said.

He said the FAFSA would be a more accurate representation of what the students’s status is, but the office does not have an exact number of how many students would be affected by the change.

“There is help information at the right side of the application,” Riley said. “If you call our office during our office hours, we can always help with that, too.”

Riley said the Financial Aid office maximizes its availability and is always in contact with students.

The Department of Education issued a press release in April of 2013 announcing the changes.

“All students should be able to apply for federal student aid within a system that incorporates their unique family dynamics,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. “These changes will allow us to more precisely calculate federal student aid eligibility based on what a student’s whole family is able to contribute and ensure taxpayer dollars are better targeted toward those students who have the most need, as well as provide an inclusive form that reflects the diversity of American families.”

The deadline to fill out and submit the FAFSA is Monday.