The Department of Education will change its student aid forms beginning in 2014-15 so that potential borrowers will be able to have their legal parents’ income assessed regardless of their marital status or gender as long as those two people live together.
Applicants will be able to list their parents’ marital status as “unmarried and both parents living together,” as well as changing the language so that Parent 1 and Parent 2 can be listed as any gender.
“All students should be able to apply for federal student aid within a system that incorporates their unique family dynamics,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “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 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms as they are currently written only take into account both parents’ incomes if they are married, which has consequently excluded a large number of applicants from being able to have those parents’ full financial information considered, the report said.
Moreover, in the case of states that allow same-sex marriage, students can claim those parents as well even if they are not recognized under federal law under the Defense of Marriage Act. That information is then used to determine an applicant’s eligibility for FAFSA financing, and having as much accurate data as is possible can in turn be a major help to people who otherwise might not be able to go to college or would have to rely upon private student loans.
The cost of going to college has been rising significantly for some time, and consumers are now becoming more reliant on student loans as a result. The average college graduate leaves school with tens of thousands of dollars in debt on this type of financing.