Overdue Changes Coming to the FAFSA in 2014

Barry Lenson

Changes Coming to the FAFSAAre you the legal child of two unmarried parents living together? Maybe the child of two men or two women who are unmarried? And do you need financial help to attend college?

If so, you already know that that the FAFSA has been discriminating against you – or at least, failing to give you the opportunity to accurately describe your family situation when you have gone to the FAFSA website to fill out your FAFSA form. Up until now, you’ve only been able to list the income of one of your parents.

But now that is going to change, and you will soon be able to list both incomes. To quote from “Aid Applicants With 2 Mothers,” an article that appeared in Inside Higher Ed on April 30, 2013 . . . 

Beginning in 2014, the form will provide “unmarried and both parents living together” as an option for students. (The option will also cover students whose parents are legally married and of the same sex, since the federal government is prohibited from recognizing same-sex marriages.) “Mother/stepmother” and “father/stepfather” will be replaced on the form by “Parent 1” and “Parent 2.”

That’s a little confusing. Even if you have parents of the same sex who are legally married, you are required to state that they are unmarried and living together. But when you’re tangling with the government, change comes slowly. (We could point back to the infuriating slowness of many needed social changes in the past, such as desegregation in the South, and the fall of state laws that barred interracial marriage . . . the list goes on and on. But in the end, progress was made.)

For today, let’s try to accept this baby step toward fairness, and be happy. If you’re the legal child of two same-sex parents or if you’re one of those parents, we hope that you see this change as progress.

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Checklist of Financial Aid Terms You Need to Understand

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