Financial Aid

LGBT students can sometimes face unique obstacles in obtaining financial aid. Here are some common ones you may encounter. If you need assistance with anything else, be sure to contact the financial aid office.

Same Sex Marriage and the FAFSA

Note: With the Supreme Court ruling on June 26th, 2015, same sex marriages should be treated no differently than opposite sex marriages. However, there may be a lag in the logistics catching up with the law.

For the purposes of the FAFSA, the definition of marriage for the parents of a student is based on the laws in the state they live in. Same sex marriages are legally recognized in the state of Wisconsin.

When determining which parents to list, list the legal parents of the student if they live in the same house, regardless of marital status. If not living together, it is not required for both to be listed. A step parent must be listed if they are legally married. If a parent is not legally recognized, they should not be listed.

If the student is married, they must list their spouse if they were legally married in a state that recognized it, regardless of where they now live. They do not need to list their partner from a legally-recognized civil union or domestic partnership.

Source: Lambda Legal

Name Discrepancies

When filling out the FAFSA, you must enter your name as it appears on your social security card, even if you are recognized by your preferred name at UWM. If you have recently changed your name legally, you must bring the court documentation to any Social Security Administration office to receive an updated social security card.

FAFSA Dependency Override

Unfortunately, an LGBT+ student may be cut off from their family after coming out. This alone is not enough for a student to be considered independent. However, the Higher Education Act does allow for an financial aid administrator to grant independent status due to unusual circumstances. That process is called a dependency override.

To obtain a dependency override, you must submit a letter to a financial aid administrator requesting one, complete with detailed circumstances of why one is required. If you can obtain a letter from a social worker or counselor supporting your circumstances, you should submit that as well.

When requesting an override, keep in mind what does and does not justify an override being granted.

An override cannot be granted for:

  • A parent refusing to contribute to a student’s education
  • A parent refusing to provide information for the FAFSA
  • A parent not claiming the student as a dependent for tax purposes
  • A student demonstrating complete financial self-sufficiency

However, these circumstance can justify an override:

  • A parent abandoning the student
  • An abusive family environment that threatens the student’s health or safety
  • A parent rejecting, ridiculing, or inflicting emotional abuse on a student

An LGBT student being rejected by their family due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity can be classified under these justifiable reasons.

Source: Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Application and Verification Guide 2015-16, Chapter 5

Selective Service Registration

Male students are required to be registered for Selective Service  in order to be eligible for financial aid. Unfortunately, the Selective Service System has determined this refers to sex assigned at birth rather than gender identity.

Therefore, a student who was male assigned at birth, regardless of if and when they transitioned, must be registered for Selective Service to be eligible for financial aid. Should a draft occur, they would be exempt from service due to current military regulations on transgender individuals. Be sure to fill out a Change of Information Form if you legally change your name after registering (trigger warning: this form will misgender you).

Conversely, a student who was female assigned at birth is not required to register for Selective Service. However, if all of their government documents reflect their gender as male, they should obtain a Status Information Letter (SIL) to prove that they are not required to register due to sex assignment at birth.

Sources: Selective Service System, National Center for Transgender Equality