If you’re a college student, you’ve most likely filled out federal forms that are as convoluted as they are time-consuming.
But if you’re a student who has two mothers instead of a mother and father, those confusing federal forms “can quickly escalate into an even more complicated exercise,” reports Tara Siegel Bernard in The New York Times.
The amount of financial aid a student receives is determined by his or her marital status as well as the parents’ financial situation. However, the Department of Education only recognises the federal definition of marriage, which is a man and a woman.
And since the federal government doesn’t recognise same-sex marriages, FAFSA — the federal aid form you’re filling out — won’t recognise them, either.
You would likely get a different amount of aid than you would if you were in the exact same financial situation, but had no immediate links to same-sex marriages, which could work for or against needy students.
Students with parents in same-sex unions cannot claim both parents as they would if their parents were heterosexual. Instead, they can only claim one parent’s income and assets. The second parent is not counted as part of the household size unless the first parent provides at least half of the household income.
This could work as an advantage as students are provided more aid if the second parent’s income and assets are not listed.
But if either of the student’s parents had children from previous marriages, those children might not qualify as dependents unless certain financial criteria were met by one of the parents. In this scenario, the student would actually receive less aid since the entire family’s expenses — that is, the other children — are not accounted for.
In addition, if you are married to someone of the same-sex, your marriage will not be recognised on the federal level and your spouse will not be recognised on your federal forms.
If you are a student who finds yourself in a poor situation due to these circumstances, you may be able to change the amount of aid you receive by reaching out to your school’s financial aid office. Many students are unaware that their school does have the authority to change their aid based on financial need.
“The financial administrator has the authority to look at the student in question’s financial situation and override their current financial aid,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education told Business Insider.
There is no need to suffer financially due to your family’s marital preferences.