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Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) if you have same-sex parents was made simpler thanks to a 2013 Supreme Court ruling. As a result of the court decision, terminology on the application was changed from “father” and “mother” to “parent one” and “parent two.” Even with the new gender-neutral terminology on the application, you’ll need to know how to navigate questions about who counts as a parent and whether their financial information should be included on your submission when you fill out the FAFSA.
Who counts as a parent on the FAFSA?
When applying for financial aid, you may wonder who can be my parent on my FAFSA? FAFSA defines a legal parent as your biological or adoptive parent, or your legal parent as determined by the state. If you have a stepparent who lives with one of your legal parents, you’ll generally have to include information about them too.
If your parents are same-sex partners, they’ll count as your parents on your FAFSA if they appear on your birth certificate, an adoption decree or a court order. If your parents aren’t married but live together, you’ll still list both on your form.
Are LGBT families eligible for federal financial aid?
On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark ruling in the United States v. Windsor case, declaring section three of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. What this ruling means for student aid is that the federal government can’t discriminate against same-sex couples applying for federal benefit programs. As a student, you’re eligible for the same level of aid regardless of the gender identity of your parents.
How to fill out the FAFSA if your parents are same-sex partners
If you’re considered a dependent for the purposes of the FAFSA, you’ll need to fill out information about your parents’ income, assets and other financial details in Step Four of the form. Depending on your parents’ marital and housing status, you’ll include both parents, just one parent or just one parent and a stepparent.
If your parents are living together, regardless of whether they’re married, you’ll include financial information for both parents, and you’ll pick one parent to be “parent one” and one parent to be “parent two.” If your parents are married but are living apart, you’ll still include both of them on your FAFSA.
Things get more complicated if your parents are not married. If this is the case and they’re living apart, you’ll list only the parent you lived with more during the past 12 months.
If you didn’t live with either parent more, you’d list whichever parent provided more financial support to you over the past 12 months. If the parent you lived with more or who financially supported you more remarried, you’ll need to include your stepparent’s information on your form.
The bottom line
Knowing how to fill out the FAFSA with same-sex parents is important to qualify for financial aid. The good news is that the FAFSA application was made more inclusive in the 2014-2015 school year when the terminology on the application was changed from “father” and “mother” to “parent one” and “parent two.” The change helped ensure that applicants with same-sex parents are eligible for the same level of financial aid regardless of the gender identity of their parents.
If your parents are same-sex partners, they will be included for FAFSA purposes as long as they appear on your birth certificate, an adoption decree or a court order.