The U.S. Department of Education has officially scrubbed the terms “mother” and “father” from federal student aid forms to allow students “to apply for federal student aid within a system that incorporates their unique family dynamics.”
Fox Radio’s Todd Starnes is reporting that the changes will appear on the 2014-2015 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form which will use terms such as “Parent 1 (father/mother/stepparent)” and “Parent 2 (father/mother/stepparent)” instead of gender-specific terms like “mother” and “father.”
“All students should be able to apply for federal student aid within a system that incorporates their unique family dynamics,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a statement. “These changes will allow us to more precisely calculate federal student aid eligibility based on what a student’s whole family is able to contribute and ensure taxpayer dollars are better targeted toward those students who have the most need, as well as provide an inclusive form that reflects the diversity of American families.”
As the statement explains: “The FAFSA has long been constructed to collect information about a student’s parents only if the parents are married. As a result, the FAFSA has excluded income and other information from one of the student’s legal parents (biological or adoptive) when the parents are unmarried, even if those parents are living together. Gender-specific terms also fail to capture income and other information from one parent when a student’s parents are in a same-sex marriage under state law but not federally recognized under the Defense of Marriage Act.”
Gay activist groups were quick to praise the move.
“We’re thrilled by the Department of Education’s decision to allow students filling out the FAFSA to accurately describe the makeup of their family, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Shawn Gaylord, director of public policy for the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Network, to the Washington Blade.
However, the Education Department warns that while most students will not be affected by the change, the eligibility status of some dependent students will change because of the additional income used in the calculation of the expected family contribution, causing them to receive less benefits.
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