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LGBTQ Discrimination + the FAFSA


HelloFeminists

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Hey everyone,

So, because of the Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA], i.e. the fact that the federal government refuses to recognize same-sex marriage, I'm not "allowed" to check "married" on my FAFSA form. I have to say I'm "single". Of course, the programs I'm applying to indicate that married students get larger financial aid packages for obvious reasons. All the programs I'm applying to are in CA, and I've heard on finaid.org that California and Massachusetts both offer supplemental forms to the FAFSA to show that someone is married or in a domestic partnership even though the feds won't recognize it. I know I need to contact all the financial aid departments at all my programs to get more info on this / find out where said forms are, but have any of you had to deal with this? If so, did you actually get adequate funding? It's just so frustrating to even have to encounter this kind of problem.

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I guess I'm surprised that marital status would make a difference in terms of departmental aid, because the school is funding *you,* not your spouse. And if your spouse is, say, a millionaire, wouldn't that decrease your chances of getting aid? What are the "obvious reasons" you're referring to? It seems counter intuitive to me. If you're talking about federal loans...again, higher income = less aid, right? I'm not really sure how marriage affects funding so I could totally be talking out of my butt here.

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The only way that it seems to affect someone in this situation (at least to me) is maybe your partner is not eligible for benefits the way that a married person's spouse would be...

But believe me, we're all taking a hit as graduate students with regard to income. I've certainly never heard of a program that rewards married students with higher financial packages.

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AFAIK, married students max out at the same amount of federal loans as non-married students. If your partner is working, it's actually to your benefit that you aren't counted as married (because then that income would be part of your household income, which would decrease the amount of federal aid you're eligible for). If they aren't working, then it's the same as being single, no? So what's the issue?

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I haven't heard of programs giving different funding packages to married students, but I am worried about getting health care coverage for my partner.

And I just want to say that even when it is financially beneficial to be able to check "single" on the fafsa, or tax forms, or whatever, it's still humiliating to be forced to legally deny your partner.

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As a member of the LGBTQ community, I understand. As an undergrad I was involved with my university's Queer Student Union and many of the students had similar concerns. Fill out the FAFSA without including your partner, since the government doesn't take them into account -- you have no choice about that. As for health insurance etc., check individual school's websites, many offer health insurance etc. to partners of students. You may want to talk with the univ's health center or talk to someone in your department, since they will know what the situation is. It is important to note, not all schools cover their same-sex partners in everything, so be prepared for a rather frustrating process.

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  • 3 weeks later...
As a member of the LGBTQ community, I understand. As an undergrad I was involved with my university's Queer Student Union and many of the students had similar concerns. Fill out the FAFSA without including your partner, since the government doesn't take them into account -- you have no choice about that. As for health insurance etc., check individual school's websites, many offer health insurance etc. to partners of students. You may want to talk with the univ's health center or talk to someone in your department, since they will know what the situation is. It is important to note, not all schools cover their same-sex partners in everything, so be prepared for a rather frustrating process.

Thank you for that, cardnav. Also to weeble.

I figured out that my school's Financial Aid office has different student budgets for married and single students, so I'm wondering if they would give me more aid if they knew I had a [same-sex] marriage license in the state of CA [which hopefully will not be nullified by the jackass family-destroying Prop 8 people in March]. Theoretically, if there are two people in our household, wouldn't they account for bigger expenses? Or do they not take my wife into account at all because she's not a student there? If not, why bother having two different budgets to begin with? What do people think?

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Thank you for that, cardnav. Also to weeble.

I figured out that my school's Financial Aid office has different student budgets for married and single students, so I'm wondering if they would give me more aid if they knew I had a [same-sex] marriage license in the state of CA [which hopefully will not be nullified by the jackass family-destroying Prop 8 people in March]. Theoretically, if there are two people in our household, wouldn't they account for bigger expenses? Or do they not take my wife into account at all because she's not a student there? If not, why bother having two different budgets to begin with? What do people think?

It depends. The reason they want joint finances is they want to see theoretically where your money is coming from. If they see that as a couple they aren't going to be able to make tuition payments no matter what, they may give more money, while if the significant other can easily "take the financial hit" they aren't going to give you anything. Just remember when you divide you assets for the purpose of FAFSA, it's based on percentage. The best advice I can give you is use the law to your advantage and try to bring down you assets to as little as possible. If you can honestly say they are your partners, your school will think of you as more desperate for finaid and therefore (hopefully) give you a better package.

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I have two thoughts about the different budgets for married vs. single students:

1) Either it's an anachronism that goes back to the time when picture of married partnership was: one partner works and one partner is dependant and cares for children, therefore partner in school needs more money to support self and partner at home.

or

2) Married couples are a safer risk, can handle more debt. Therefore you can get more loan $$.

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