DOMA Reforms Federal Financial Aid For Same-Sex Couples And Their Children

"Students who are children or legal dependants of same-sex couples may gain access to more generous federal financial aid in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, though the University’s financial aid policy will not change," Brown University's Daily Herald reports. "The Court’s decision means that the incomes of both spouses in a same-sex marriage will now be taken into consideration for students of same-sex couples applying for financial aid or currently paying off student loans. Married gay students will also be able to count their spouses’ income in applying for aid. The new federal regulations affect all legally-married gay couples and all children of married gay couples, regardless of whether they attend college in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages, said Karen McCarthy, a policy analyst for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. ... The reformed process for federal student loans will allow for a more accurate representation of families’ financial situations but does not automatically increase the amount of aid, McCarthy said. Financial aid experts said the timeline for revising federal regulations on aid remains unclear. 'We don’t really have any guidance yet,' McCarthy said. Recommendations by the U.S. Department of Education on how the court’s ruling should affect federal financial aid are under review by the U.S. Department of Justice, which is still analyzing the impact of the Court’s decision striking down DOMA, McCarthy said. Though many state governments currently use the federal financial aid application forms, it remains uncertain whether states that do not recognize same-sex marriage will change their application processes now that the federal application will recognize married same-sex couples, McCarthy said. If these states choose not to continue using the federal forms, they will have to design a completely different application process, McCarthy said."

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