Senator John Kerry urges revamp of college financial aid rules

WASHINGTON – Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts urged federal officials today to revise college financial aid policies that he says discriminate against children from families headed by same-sex couples and against transgender students.

“Taxpayer-funded financial aid is often being misallocated based on sexual orientation when it should be based solely on financial need,’’ the Bay State Democrat said in a letter addressed to Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Kerry said federal law is treating same-sex couples differently by not fully recognizing both parents in its determination for awarding student aid. Federal rules, for example, don’t always count step-children in the melded families of same-sex couples, therefore undercounting the family’s number of dependents and increasing the amount the government thinks the parents can afford to pay.

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Kerry said he was disturbed by reports that transgender students were being disqualified for aid because of conflicting gender identification on forms. “We should encourage all students to pursue a higher education and turning them away because the bureaucracy can’t ‘compute’ their gender is just wrong.’’

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