Students in same-sex marriages will be treated the same as their straight married classmates when it comes to federal college loan applications, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Friday, in a shift that reflects this year's Supreme Court ruling that broadened gay rights.
"We must continue to ensure that every single American is treated equally in the eyes of the law, and this important guidance for students is another step forward in that effort," Duncan said in a statement.
The Education Department also revised its required Free Application for Federal Student Aid — the form known as FAFSA— to reflect more inclusive language about students and their parents. The department said it would recognize a student — and parents — as legally married if the couple wed in a state that permits same-sex marriages.
The new application forms do not distinguish between gay or straight marriages.
The department also said students' eligibility for federal aid would be the same in all 50 states, regardless of where the student attends school.
For instance, a same-sex couple from Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal, would be treated the same as a straight couple if one or both applied for a federal loan to attend a school in one of the 34 states that do not permit gay marriage. The same standards would apply to parents in same-sex marriages.