Public Comment

FAFSA: Public Comment

August 2022

In June 2022, the U.S. Department of Education requested comments on its proposal to collect required demographic information about race or ethnicity and sex, including gender identity, as part of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Public Comment

Issue

To receive federal financial aid, higher education students are required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.  A 2021 amendment to the Higher Education Act of 1965 now requires applicants to provide information about their race or ethnicity and sex when executing that form. The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) will run a pilot of the proposed demographic questions through a voluntary survey starting in October to inform its implementation of those questions on the FAFSA form for the 2024-2025 award year.

Impact

An estimated 58% of LGBTQ people ages 18-40 have attended a four-year college at some point in their lives. About 60% of them took out loans to pay for college, compared to 51% of non-LGBTQ people. Transgender people are more likely (51%) than cisgender LGBQ (33%) and non-LGBQ (23%) students to report having federal student loans specifically.

Summary

Scholars provide research to support the collection of data on race or ethnicity and sex on the FAFSA form, providing information on the demographics, financial needs, and disparities observed among LGBTQ people and students compared to non-LGBT people. They commend the DOE for including measures that allow the identification of nonbinary and transgender applicants and provide support for collecting data in accordance with 2022 recommendations from an ad hoc panel of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

Download the full comment

FAFSA: Public Comment