U.S. Department of Education Proposes Eliminating ‘Mother, Father’ on Financial Aid Forms

DOE pdWashington, D.C. — The United States Department of Education has announced its proposal to eliminate the use of the words ‘father’ and ‘mother’ on its financial aid forms.

The move appears to be an effort to accommodate and adapt to homosexual relationships and arrangements where men and women are living together unmarried.

“The 2014-2015 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, will provide a new option for dependent applicants to describe their parents’ marital status as ‘unmarried and both parents living together,'” the department outlined in a recent news release. “Additionally, where appropriate, the new FAFSA 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.'”

It outlined that heretofore, forms only collected information about biological or adoptive parents who are married.

“As a result, the FAFSA has excluded income and other information from one of the student’s legal parents (biological or adoptive) when the parents are unmarried, even if those parents are living together,” the department advised. “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.”

It further explained that the purpose of collecting the information about one’s parents is to accurately calculate the expected family contribution (EFC) in order to determine if the student is eligible for financial aid.

“Collecting parental information from both of a dependent student’s legal parents will result in fair treatment of all families by eliminating longstanding inequities based on parents’ relationship with each other rather than on their relationship with their child,” the department stated. “The collection of information from both of a dependent student’s parents is statutorily supported in the Higher Education Act (HEA), which generally includes the terms ‘parent’ and ‘parents’ and not terms like ‘mother,’ ‘father,’ or ‘spouse.'”

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“This change will not impact the longstanding and statutorily required provision that when a dependent student’s parents are divorced, only information on the parent that the student resided with for the greater portion of the 12 months preceding the date of completing the FAFSA is to be reported,” it added.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan opined that the government should recognize that there are a variety of living arrangements in modern society.

“All students should be able to apply for federal student aid within a system that incorporates their unique family dynamics,” he said. “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 Department of Education recently published the proposal in the Federal Register and is welcoming public comment over the changes at this time.

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