College students must use the first name and sex on record with the Social Security Administration when applying for federal financial aid. While students can have both legally changed, the process can be complicated and students under the age of 18 need parental consent.
[Learn about FAFSA changes for same sex families.]
Erlick was born male, but has identified as a girl since age 8. She kept her birth name, but later changed her legal gender with the help of her parents. This made the financial aid process relatively smooth, she says.
"The main reason I didn't have an issue with it is because I did have supportive parents," she says. "For those that don't, there are so many difficulties."
The hurdles LGBT students may come up against when trying to pay for college are not insurmountable, though.
Students wanting to change a legal name or gender can also seek out groups such as the Transgender Law Center for guidance, and LGBT teens rejected by their parents because of their sexual identity can turn to the schools they applied to and explain their situation.
LGBT students can also look to scholarships. The Point Foundation is one of the nation's largest scholarship providers for LGBT students. Dozens of other scholarship funds exist, and the Human Rights Campaign maintains a list of national, regional and state-based awards designated for LGBT students, as well as those offered by specific colleges and universities.
Trying to fund your education? Get tips and more in the U.S. News Paying for College center.