How same-sex marriage impacts financial aid

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

As they scramble to meet looming deadlines for financial-aid applications, families in which both parents are unmarried and live together—or in which the parents are in a same-sex marriage—may qualify for less assistance than in previous years.

The 2014 Free Application for Federal Student Aid or Fafsa—which calculates income, assets and family size—now collects financial information about parents “regardless of marital status or gender.” Since the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, same-sex couples must report their marital status if they were married in a state where same-sex unions are legal but reside in a state where they are not, or even if they were married in a foreign country. If the student is one half of a same-sex marriage, he or she may also be considered to have independent financial means. “It’s a recognition of diverse family structures,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst with Bankrate.com.

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