On June 26, 2013 the Supreme Court struck down the section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that provided that for purposes of federal programs, a marriage can only be between one man and one woman.
Consistent with this decision, same-sex couples must report their marital status as married if they were legally married in a state or other jurisdiction that permits same-sex marriage.
The FAFSA and FAFSA on the Web have been revised to provide additional guidance to applicants who are same-sex married couples or have same-sex married parents.
Consistent with the ruling, legally married same-sex couples will be treated as married for all FAFSA and EFC calculation purposes. USDE provides the following guidance:
PLACE OF CELEBRATION RULE: Any legal marriage that is recognized by the jurisdiction in which the marriage was celebrated will be recognized for Title IV HEA program purposes without regard to whether the marriage is between persons of the same sex or opposite sex, and without regard to where the couple resides.
This determination applies to:
- both a student and to the parents of a dependent student
- a student attending an institution located in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage and in a jurisdiction (e.g., a state) that does not recognize same-sex marriage
- only to marriages and does not apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, or similar formal relationships recognized under state law
- all questions concerning marriage and marital status on the FAFSA.
FIRST-TIME 2013-2014 FAFSA APPLICANTS
As of December 13, 2013, responses to the FAFSA marital status questions must be “married” if the student or parent was, as of the date of the FAFSA submission, legally married in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory, or a foreign country, without regard to whether the marriage is between persons of the same or opposite sex or where the married couple resides or where the student attends school.
PREVIOUSLY SUBMITTED 2013-2014 FAFSAS
Students who had previously submitted a 2013-2014 FAFSA may, but are not required to, change their or their parents’ marital status if the student or parents were in a legal same-sex marriage at the time of the initial submission of the 2013-2014 FAFSA. Because the student was unable to respond as married because of Section 3 of DOMA, the school must approve at the student’s request.
If the change is either not related to the Court’s decision or the student’s or parents’ marital status changed after initial FAFSA submission, regular Department policies would apply, including the special process for updating a student’s marital status for dependency purposes.
If the student or parent chooses to make a change in marital status, the student’s resultant EFC must be used by all institutions for all 2013-2014 FAFSA and EFC purposes, even if that means that the student’s 2013-2014 financial aid package must be modified.
Changes to either the student’s or the dependent student’s parents’ marital status because of the Court’s decision will necessitate changes to other required FAFSA information. For example, a change in the student’s marital status would require a number of income items and other FAFSA items to also be updated to account for the spouse’s income and other information, including family size. For the parents of a dependent student, FAFSA information must be changed to include income, family size, and other information from both of the student’s parents.
2014-2015 AND SUBSEQUENT YEARS’ FAFSA
For the 2014-2015 FAFSA and for all subsequent FAFSA years, responses to the FAFSA marital status questions must be “married” if the student or parent was legally married in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory, or a foreign country, without regard to whether the marriage was between persons of the same sex or opposite sex or where the couple resides or where the student will be attending school.
For further information about the DOMA changes and the implications for Title IV student financial assistance programs, see DCL GEN-13-25