The Financial Aid Debate

Will LGBT-friendly financial aid applications become a reality?

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Transgender students and children of gay and lesbian parents must take a much different road right now when it comes to financial aid. That’s why Sen. John Kerry is asking that the federal government reforms its financial aid policies to level the playing field for anyone who may fall into these categories.

Currently, FAFSA – or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – does not make any allowances for trans applicants. Instead, the name on the form may not match up with the gender, making it difficult for transgender students to provide the necessary documentation.

Children of same-sex parents also face an uphill battle thanks to DOMA, which doesn’t recognize same-sex partnerships, civil unions and legal marriages. As a result, the government may only consider the assets of one parent when a student applies for financial assistance.

“Reports that kids who want to go to college are facing financial barriers just because of who they are or their parents were born to be are downright un-American. We can do better,” says Kerry. “We should encourage all students to pursue a higher education and turning them away because the bureaucracy can’t ‘compute’ their gender is just wrong.”

But if the senator has his way, the forms would be revised to account for both situations in a way that values diversity. In a request this week to the Department of Education, the senator wrote, “I request that you consider ways to clarify the FAFSA for applicants who have same-sex parents and for students who are gay and transgender. I also ask that you consider the whole of the financial aid process – beginning to end – from the perspective of these applicants and make any possible modifications that would improve the application and reward procedures for all applicants.”