Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
Please take a moment to read our updated TOS, Privacy Policy, and Forum Rules.

FAFSA to Consider Same-Sex & Unmarried Parents' Assets

Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,648 Senior Member
edited April 2013 in Parents Forum
Big news from today's Chronicle of Higher Education (besides the CC story ;) ) ...
For the first time since the creation of the federal student-aid system, the income and assets of all of a would-be borrower's legal parents will be counted in the government's calculation of the student's need.

See Same-Sex and Unmarried Parents' Assets and Income Will Be Considered on Fafsa - Government - The Chronicle of Higher Education

While unmarried and gay parents may be glad that this change shows that the U.S. Education Department is recognizing and validating their relationship, they may not be so glad that now TWO parents' income and assets will be considered by the EFC formula instead of just one!
Post edited by Sally_Rubenstone on

Replies to: FAFSA to Consider Same-Sex & Unmarried Parents' Assets

  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,659 Senior Member
    The Chronicle article is potentially misleading -- it's best to look at the Dept. of Education Press Release:
    Today the U.S. Department of Education announced that beginning with the 2014-2015 federal student aid form, the Department will—for the first time—collect income and other information from a dependent student's legal parents regardless of the parents' marital status or gender, if those parents live together.
    Education Department Announces Changes to FAFSA Form to More Accurately and Fairly Assess Students' Need for Aid | U.S. Department of Education

    So, contrary to the implication in the Chronicle report ("the income and assets of all of a would-be borrower's legal parents will be counted"), there is no change for students whose parents are divorced or separated.
  • tom1944tom1944 Registered User Posts: 6,010 Senior Member
    Should they at least wait until DOMA is ruled unconstitutional?
  • SikorskySikorsky Registered User Posts: 5,851 Senior Member
    If I were the Secretary of Education (God forbid!), I'd move forward. The whole country more or less expects DOMA to be overturned, and the Department of Education may as well start rolling out new policies. It's easier to halt implementation of pending new procedures than it is to catch up to the law if the law gets ahead of them.
  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes Registered User Posts: 32,803 Senior Member
    Oh cool. We'll only recognize your partnership for the purposes of making sure your kid gets less aid.

    But really, it's always bugged me a bit that parents who live together but aren't married kind of get a "break" in FAFSA.
  • tom1944tom1944 Registered User Posts: 6,010 Senior Member
    roman- yeah great isn't it. Can they get survivor benefits from social security?
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,659 Senior Member
    The change has nothing to do with DOMA and gay marriage -- they have merely added one new option for answering the FAFSA question about marital status:
    ""unmarried and both parents living together."

    They have also replace terms like "father" and "mother" with the gender-neutral "parent".

    So while this potentially reaches a single-sex, 2-parent household (where both partners are the legal parents of a college age child) -- the language isn't specifically geared to that.

    The intent clearly is to reach the situation where both parents live together but are not legally married. (If there are two gay parents who are legally married, then the student would NOT check that new "unmarried" option in any case.)
  • fogfogfogfog Registered User Posts: 4,056 Senior Member
    Well it seems if everyone wants equality for benefits then certainly equality in the tax penalties involved with the marriage tax, as well as any aid with the gov should certainly be applied equally.
    I guess a school can technically do whatever it wants for aid grants/need/scholarships as well.
  • tom1944tom1944 Registered User Posts: 6,010 Senior Member
    calmom- I was just being snarky. I mean I knew there was an uproar coming to stop gay couples from claiming to be parents so that they would lose financial aid.
  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys Registered User Posts: 15,420 Senior Member
    It actually makes great sense to me. The FAFSA has always been focused on the household and if the household includes additional people bio or otherwise that contribute to the well-being of the future college student then it makes sense that the income be counted. A household could really be any combination of people and any combination of gender. If the federal income taxes don't line up it will make validation more complex, but the premise "feels' sound to me.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,659 Senior Member
    Well, it is still only parents. The unmarried partner won't count unless he/she is a biological or adoptive parent of the child.
  • pugmadkatepugmadkate Registered User Posts: 5,888 Senior Member
    I think this is premature for gay and lesbian parents. All the responsibility with none of the rights. That's ridiculous.
  • BayBay Registered User Posts: 12,499 Senior Member
    I don't understand how this would differ from how it is handled now. I also don't know how it is handled now. If a child is currently living with his same-sex parents, are they not now both counted for FAFSA?
  • MZBkiyaMZBkiya Registered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
    We've been dealing with this for years. My partner is not a legal parent because when we tried to have her adopt them as infants, the state would have required that I give up my parental rights - in Indiana at that time, (and technically today, though some judges have allowed adoptions in spite of how the law is written), a child could only have one mom, legally. So we just wrote wills and set up trusts and bought extra life insurance, etc.
    We will voluntarily include my partner's income on the FAFSA when the kids and I are eligible to get survivor benefits on her Social Security.
    That being said, we have always explained everything to the schools, and given them whatever data they want. They have treated us like a family in return.
    Reality, though? It doesn't make a whole lot of difference -- we are both librarians, so the incomes aren't so big to start with.
  • MZBkiyaMZBkiya Registered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
    Bay - some explanation on how it works now. One of the first questions the FAFSA asks is, "are your parents married?". Well, my state allows my children only one legal parent. One mom, and there is no legal father. When we asked if my partner could adopt, as a stepparent can, we were told state law did not permit a child to have two moms. So, no, my children's parents aren't married. Then FAFSA asks which parent you live with. Mom. And from there on out, there is no place to put information about my partner. She is not my dependent. She is not a non-custodial parent. So everything in FAFSA is determined on my numbers alone (including half the value of our jointly owned home, as well as half the mortgage debt, etc.).
  • BayBay Registered User Posts: 12,499 Senior Member
    Thanks, MZBkiya. Under the new change, how would the accounting differ for your children? If your partner is not the "legal" parent of your children, then the change would have no impact on your children, correct?
This discussion has been closed.