DOMA Ruling and Federal Financial Aid for Same-Sex Couples

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 (DOMA) will result in the fairer treatment of married gay students, giving the government a truer picture of the students' ability to pay for college, reported The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Moving forward, same-sex couples may file joint tax returns, and the children of those couples should list both parents on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), according to a fact sheet released by gay and lesbian advocacy groups.

Wednesday's ruling comes two months after the U.S. Education Department announced that, starting in 2014, FAFSA would begin counting the income and assets of potential borrowers' legal parents in the calculation of students' need, regardless of the parents' marital status or gender, if those parents live together. The agency's previous policy shift means that the Supreme Court decision Wednesday allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage will have little impact.

Asked how the court's decision could affect the department's recent policy change, a spokesman said that President Obama had directed the attorney general and other members of his cabinet to ensure that the decision, along with its implications for federal benefits and obligations, is "swiftly and smoothly" put into effect.


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The Chronicle of Higher Education