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Changes to the FAFSA

Two important changes are being made to the FAFSA.  If these changes affect you, you should be very careful to comply with the new instructions when you complete your FAFSA.

Whom do these changes affect and when?

Effective for the current award year 2013-14 and into the future:

 For students:

1)      Whose parent(s) are married  in a same sex marriage conducted in a state that recognizes same sex marriages, or

2)      Are in a same sex marriage conducted in a state that recognizes same sex marriage.

Effective for the upcoming award year 2014-15, but not the current year.

 For students:

Whose parent(s) are not married to each other but live together in the same household.

Please note:  Neither of these changes are Kansas Wesleyan Policy.  Both changes are instructions from the U.S. Dept. of Education and are federal law.  The Federal government does not expect either change to affect large populations of students.

1) Same Sex Marriages:

Effective with the Supreme Court’s “Windsor Decision”, which overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage act, affects Financial Aid application and eligibility for students or their parents who are in same-sex marriages.  The US Dept. of Education has determined that this decision affects both the 13-14 (current year) award year as well as all future award years.

What are the implications of this decision?

For 13-14 Award Year:  This change is optional and at the discretion of the affected person (student or parent).

a)      Students who were married in a same-sex marriage, but were otherwise unable to apply as an Independent student MAY revise their 13-14 FAFSA to independent, following the below detailed procedures:

IF their marriage took place ON OR BEFORE THE DATE  they filed their original 13-14 FAFSA, they can go to FAFSA.ed.gov and “make a correction”, change their marital status to married and add their spouses income and asset information.  This should also change the number of persons in their household and number in college.  All affected data should be changed.    They should provide a copy of their marriage certificate to the Student Financial Planning Office.

IF their marriage took place AFTER THE DATE they filed their original 13-14 FAFSA, they may apply to update their status by completing Verification as an Independent student.  To do so, they must submit a Verification Worksheet and provide 2012 IRS Tax Transcripts for both the student and their spouse and a copy of their marriage certificate.  IRS data retrieval cannot be used unless a joint tax return was filed.  See the Verification instructions on the KWU Web Site Financial Aid page titled Verification.

How will this change their 13-14 award?  The student who is now Independent would now be eligible to borrow the Independent annual and aggregate Federal Student Loan limits and their loan awards may be eligible to be changed.  Their EFC may change and the Student Financial Planning Office will revise their Pell Grant or other awards accordingly.  If their parent borrowed a PLUS for them for the 13-14 award year, we would be unable to process a PLUS disbursement after the date they made this change, but would not have to refund any PLUS funds received before the date of the change to Independent.

b)      Students WHOSE PARENTS are in a same-sex marriage or whose legal parents are married and living together, MAY (for 13-14)  access their student’s FAFSA and change their status to married and add their spouse’s income and Assets.

IF their marriage took place ON OR BEFORE THE DATE  they filed their student’s original 13-14 FAFSA, they can go to FAFSA.ed.gov and “make a correction”, change their marital status to married and add their spouses income and asset information.  This may also change the number of persons in their household and number in college.  All affected data should be changed.

IF their marriage took place AFTER THE DATE they filed their student’s original 13-14 FAFSA, they may apply to update their status by completing Verification.  To do so, they must submit a Verification Worksheet and provide IRS Tax Transcripts for 2012 for both parents.  IRS data retrieval cannot be used unless a joint tax return was filed.  See the Verification instructions on the KWU Web Site Financial Aid page titled Verification.

How will this change their student’s 13-14 award?  The KWU Student Financial Planning Office will revise their student’s awards accordingly.   Sorry, we can’t predict the outcome without a revised EFC from the revised FAFSA.

For 14-15 Award Year:  This change is NOT optional; it is the new required process.   The FAFSA and FAFSA Instructions have been revised.   Follow the instructions on your 14-15 FAFSA carefully. 

2) Unmarried Parents Living in Same Household:

The US Dept. of Education published in the Federal Register  May 3, 2013  and in Dear Colleague Letter GEN-13-12, and Higher Education Act section 475,  instructs that the a student whose  legal parents,  who are not married to each other but who live in the same household must  both report their income and assets on the student’s FAFSA.  

An example may make this clearer, so we will look at the fictional student “Margeau”:

  • Bob is Margeau’s biological father and Lisa is Margeau’s biological mother. 
  • Bob and Lisa live together in the same household.
  • Bob and Lisa are not legally married; therefore they have not filed their income taxes together.
  • In years prior to 14-15, they reported just one of the parent’s  income on Margeau’s FAFSA. 
  • For the upcoming award year, both Bob and Lisa will be required to report their income and asset information on Margeau’s 14-15 FAFSA FOR THE FIRST TIME. 
  • Bob and Lisa may file their Income Tax forms  for 2013 jointly, in which case they will be able to use IRS Data Retrieval to import their tax info into Margeau’s 14-15 FAFSA.  If they do not, the numbers from Bobs Tax Return must be added to the numbers from Lisa’s tax return and the sum entered on the FAFSA.
  • It does not matter whether or not Margeau lives with Bob and Lisa, as long as she does not meet the criterion to be considered independent, both her legal parents income and assets must be reported on the FAFSA.

What does “Legal Parent” mean:  The FAFSA instructions define a legal parent as the student’s biological or adoptive parent, who live together in the same household, regardless of their marital status or gender.

Another example may help:  Another fictional student:  “Rodney”, a dependent student:

  • Rodney’s parents (Fred and Frieda) divorced when Rodney was ten.
  • Rodney has lived with his father, Fred, since the divorce.
  • Rodney’s father Fred has always provided his income and asset information on Rodney’s FAFSA
  • Fred’s friend, Barbie, now lives in the house with Fred and Rodney.
  • Barbie is not Rodney’s legal parent; she is not his biological mother, nor did Barbie adopt Rodney.
  • Barbie’s income is not reported on Rodney’s FAFSA for 14-15.

What are the implications of this decision?

Students and parents must be careful to provide all of the required information on their FAFSA under this new definition.  Review and follow the FAFSA instructions carefully.