So long, mom and dad. Hello, Parent 1 and Parent 2.
The U.S. Dept. of Education announced new terminology for federal student aid forms to describe parents regardless of their marital status or gender. The new monikers will be used beginning with the 2014-2015 year.
The 2014-2015 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will provide a new option for dependent applicants to describe their parents’ marital status as “unmarried and both parents living together.”
The new form will also use terms like “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.”
The Dept. of Education said the changes were made because “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 rights organizations praised the move.
Shawn Gaylord, director of public policy for the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Network told the Washington Blade the change would ensure that sexual orientation and gender identity would not be used to discriminate against students.
Despite questions about whether these changes would result in cost savings for same-sex households, LGBT groups like the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network praised the move to include same-sex households in FAFSA.
“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,” Gaylord told the publication.