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Married, gay students to receive equal treatment in college loan applications

Friday, December 13, 2013

WASHINGTON — Students in same-sex marriages will be treated the same as their straight married classmates when it comes to federal college loan applications, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Friday, in a shift that reflects this year’s Supreme Court ruling that broadened gay rights.

Arne Duncan

Arne Duncan

“We must continue to ensure that every single American is treated equally in the eyes of the law, and this important guidance for students is another step forward in that effort,” Duncan said in a statement.

The Education Department also revised its required Free Application for Federal Student Aid – the form known as FAFSA- to reflect more inclusive language about students and their parents. The department said it would recognize a student – and parents – as legally married if the couple wed in a state that permits same-sex marriages.

The new application forms do not distinguish between gay or straight marriages.

The department also said students’ eligibility for federal aid would be the same in all 50 states, regardless of where the student attends school.

For instance, a same-sex couple from Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal, would be treated the same as a straight couple if one or both applied for a federal loan to attend a school in one of the 34 states that do not permit gay marriage. The same standards would apply to parents in same-sex marriages.

“As students fill out their FAFSA this coming year, I’m thrilled they’ll be able to do so in a way that is more fair and just,” Duncan said, using the financial aid application’s acronym.

The change was formally announced to colleges and parents in a letter from Brenda Dann-Messier, the department’s assistant secretary for vocational and adult education.

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Before the Supreme Court ruled this summer, the Education Department was bound by the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited all federal agencies from recognizing same-sex marriages . The Clinton-era law defined marriage as between one and one woman and worked against many applicants in same-sex marriages.

Friday’s move is the latest effort by the Education Department to be more helpful to students in same-sex marriages, and those with married gay parents.

Even before the ruling, Duncan instructed the department to collect information on both of the student’s legal parents, regardless of marital status. That meant children being raised by unmarried couples – regardless of sexual orientation – would have both adults’ incomes factored into financial aid eligibility.

That was done to reflect that same-sex couples share financial responsibilities for children, even if their state does not sanction gay marriages.

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29 more reader comments:

  1. this is great news. everyday there is mounting momentum steaming forward to equality.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 3:11pm
  2. Another hundred years and the Russians should be ready for enlightenment!

    Replied on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 3:54pm
  3. yeah… of course they do! when money (that benefits them) is at stake systems more quickly change their paperwork!

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 3:19pm
  4. Well, it’s better than what Aussie just did and what Russia’s done lately. Good progress.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 3:20pm
  5. finally!

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 3:22pm
  6. very good

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 3:27pm
  7. Melissa Mendez

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 3:27pm
  8. About time

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 3:50pm
  9. Everyone deserves to be in debt equally!

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 4:05pm
  10. Finally

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 4:20pm
  11. Good. It means we might pay more for education, but it closes a loophole…and strives toward equality.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 4:38pm
  12. I hate how this is news. And not just something that happens daily.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 4:49pm
  13. Well I’m happy about this :) some may pay more and others like my partner no longer have to apply with their parents.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 5:06pm
  14. yay

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 6:11pm
  15. I think its funny how people are excited about this. What they mean by this is that gay married couples will not get more funding because they are considered married now on the application. Just like straight married people. The government is just trying to save its money by making this change.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 6:55pm
  16. Good good news

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 8:17pm
  17. They weren’t already?

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 8:37pm
  18. Soooo annoying how the government only makes changes towards equal rights when it somehow benefits them I’m so over it. What ever happened to the inclusion of equal rights because it’s the right thing to do

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 8:54pm
  19. WELCOME TO AMERICA…

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 10:35pm
  20. good. they should be treated the same

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 11:25pm
  21. Yes, that is how society should treat LGBTQ identified people! Thanks for not discriminating people due to their beliefs!

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 3:46am
  22. Good!

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 4:16am
  23. Thanks God…

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:04am
  24. great news!

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 11:37am
  25. totally kool as awesome

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 1:01pm
  26. As we inch closer and closer to 100% equality, more stories surface from the right wing “Christians” about their hatred for gays. We move one foot forward while the other is stuck. While some want to burn us in ovens or build a huge fence and put all of us there, we read a story like this and I thank the government for being progressive.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 2:06pm
  27. Excellent. Yet another win.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 2:24pm
  28. If we want equality in the right to marry then we have to accept the good and the bad aspects of that equality. The same rules should apply to ALL!

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 3:55pm
  29. Please join my new group for daily support and encouragement, for and from people of all walks of life. Thankyou

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 3:56pm