DOMA Strikes Again – College Financial Aid Issues

I talk a lot about the effects the Federal Defense of Marriage Act has on taxes for same-sex married couples.  But DOMA reaches beyond just taxes; it impacts everything at the federal level because for all federal purposes, same-sex married couples are considered legal strangers.  As this New York Times article points out, this affects things like filling out a FAFSA form for college financial aid.

Though it is not immediately clear from the actual form, officials from the Department of Education, which issues it, said that applicants with two married mothers or fathers must fill out the Fafsa as if the couple were divorced.  They must choose the legal parent who provides more support, which means that the other parent’s income and assets are often ignored.  That can give the impression that the student requires more aid — or less — than one from an identical family headed by heterosexual parents.

The Times article also tells the story of the struggles of gay college students who have come out, and then been cut off from support by their parents.