1. The parent with the least amount of income should have often have custody or be the residential parent (and the corresponding tax deduction for that child) the year prior to applying to college. This will allow your college-bound student to be eligible for more financial aid.
2. Full cooperation in filing the financial aid forms should be required in your decree. That means both parents have to share their financial information with the student so the FAFSA and CSS Profile can be filed in time to meet all deadlines.
3. The divorce decree should identify who will pay for what — related to college preparation and college. That means prior to college, paying for standardized test prep courses, paying for admissions applications, paying for college visits, etc. It also means agreeing on how college expenses are handled — split 50/50, dad pays for room & board, mom pays for tuition, you both pay for books and fees, etc. All of that should be spelled out in plain English so there’s no dispute when the time comes — and it will!
4. There should be an appropriate cap to these expenses. The cost of attendance (all college costs combined) has risen about 8 percent per year for the last fifty years, so it would be wise to limit the potential cost of college for both parties in a divorce. For example, Dad agrees to pay 50 percent of all tuition, fees, room & board, etc. up to a threshold of $15,000 per school year for an undergraduate degree. Note that more than half of kids today take longer than 4 years to earn a degree, so you may also want to limit the length of time you will be willing to be “on the hook”.
5. The decree should require life insurance and disability insurance for the total of all college-related obligations. The decree won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on if one of the parents can’t work or dies prematurely.
The future of your child is important. If you fail to plan and have proper language added to your divorce decree regarding your child’s college education, you could end up paying thousands more than you planned, and even more should you end up back in court.
If you are facing divorce, Stange Law Firm, PC can help. We focus exclusively on family law in the primary areas of divorce, child custody, child support, paternity and other domestic relations issues. We care about families, especially those who are struggling. If you are concerned about your child’s college education, give our attorneys a call.
Stange Law Firm, PC offers a confidential half-hour consultation to meet with an attorney. You may call our office at 855-805-0595 to schedule an appointment or visit us online.
Source: Huffington Post, Divorce Questions: How is College Tuition Divided Among Exes? Beth Walker, founder of College Funding Coaches