The Supreme Court’s decision striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 will result in the fairer treatment of married gay students, financial-aid experts say, giving the government a truer picture of the students’ ability to pay for college.
For some students, the ruling will mean more financial aid; for others, it will mean less.
Under the act, which defined marriage as the union between one man and one woman, students in same-sex marriages were considered unmarried for purposes of awarding federal student aid, said Mark Kantrowitz, senior vice president and publisher of Edvisors Network.
That meant that a gay or lesbian student in a same-sex marriage did not report the income and assets of his or her spouse, and the spouse was not counted in household size unless the spouse lived with the student and the student provided more than half of the spouse’s support. The student had to report any support received from the spouse as untaxed income.
If the couple had children, the children were counted in the household size only if the student was the biological or adoptive parent or if the children lived with the student and he or she provided more than half of their support. <Read more.>