This week has brought a flood of news on gay rights as Supreme Court justices review the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA). The repeal of DOMA would bring many benefits to same-sex families, such as death benefits, tax incentives, and health insurance coverage.
What does this have to do with financial aid? A lot, actually.
An increasingly common issue in the financial aid application process is how LGBT families file the FAFSA.
Because of DOMA, financial aid for same-sex families is determined differently and can lead to non-uniform aid awards. When filing the FAFSA, both parents (if married) are required to provide their financial information. In the case where marriage is not federally recognized, only one parent would be able to file for the student, leading to increased financial aid for the family. What’s more, any financial support from the other parent would be reported as untaxed income and subject to different treatment in the aid calculations. The same logic applies to married students.
If DOMA is repealed, the application process would be streamlined for all married couples. Financial aid would take all financial support for the student into account, and the question of “which parent should file the FAFSA” would be eliminated for these families.
This also means that same-sex families might get less financial aid, because financial awards would be based on both parents’ income and assets, not just one.
Clearly DOMA has far-reaching impacts for college students and their families, as repealing DOMA would mean uniformity in the financial aid process for all married couples.