Same-Sex and Unmarried Parents' Assets and Income Will Be Considered on Fafsa

April 29, 2013

For the first time since the creation of the federal student-aid system, the income and assets of all of a would-be borrower's legal parents will be counted in the government's calculation of the student's need.

Until now, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or Fafsa, has collected financial information from only one parent if the parents are unmarried or are in a same-sex marriage. Starting with the 2014-15 form, the Education Department will gather information from both parents of dependent students, regardless of their marital status or gender.

The change is not expected to affect many families, but it could reduce aid to some dependent students of unmarried and same-sex couples, according to the department, because another parent's income and assets will be considered in the calculation of need.

In a news release, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the revisions would "ensure taxpayer dollars are better targeted toward those students who have the most need" and "provide an inclusive form that reflects the diversity of American families."

In a conference call with reporters, Mr. Duncan said the department had not estimated how many families would be affected, or by how much their awards would be reduced. He said that cost savings "had nothing to do" with the department's decision to update the form.

"We don't know whether it will cost more or cost less," he said. "We just think it's more accurate, more inclusive, more fair, and better reflects the reality of young people's family circumstances."