By: Tom Cicero
Students with same-sex parents will be able to apply for the same aid that other students have been getting for years.Starting next year, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), will begin to recognize same-sex parentage.
The 2014-2015 FAFSA form’s language will change to allow students to include their same-sex parents’ information.
“Parent 1(father/mother/step parent)” and “Parent 2 (father/mother/step parent)” will modify the “mother/father” choice on the form, making the options more inclusive.
Eric Weems, a financial consultant at Roosevelt, shares his thoughts about the updated bill.
“This is giving everybody the same ability to be considered when going through the financial aid process,” Weems said. “It removes the need for same-sex couples to do things differently than heterosexual couples.”
Carrie Brecke, English instructor and head of RU Proud, Roosevelt’s LGBTQ club, advocated the change. She explained that issues like this are very important to her because she is in a same-sex relationship herself.
“This is a huge step forward,” Brecke said. “When talking about progressing the rights of LGBT’s, everything is a huge step forward. Today, it’s the FAFSA, tomorrow is social security, because if you think about it, all of these organizations are very similar.
Now that the government has allowed this, there is hope for so much more. This could be a great first domino in a domino effect that could really progress the rights of LGBT’s and bring them to the same level as heterosexual couples.”
Before the update, students with same-sex parents could only report one income on their FAFSA form, which could fluctuate their aid negatively. Their parents’ expected contribution might have been lower or inaccurately represented.
With this equality may come an increased cost, however. Now that the document takes both parents incomes into account, the financial aid received may be less.
Weems said that while people are well aware of that, the document is important for a different reason.
“The notion from people in these situations is, ‘We get that there will be increased costs, but we are more anxious to be aligned with everyone else,’” he said. “It absolutely is an equality thing more than a financial one.”
Brecke added, “We live in a very permeable society that is constantly changing. Things are not set in stone, and this is a great example of that.”
The updated FAFSA aims to help students who are struggling financially and, before the update, couldn’t reap the full rewards of FAFSA due to the genders of their parents.
All students will now be on a first-come-first-serve basis with FAFSA, leveling out the playing field and being a truly equal-opportunity document.