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Post-divorce, what are parents to do about college financial aid?

Many parents consider the act of contributing to their child’s higher education expenses to be a privilege. Other parents insist that their child should pay his or her own way through college, given that this kind of hard work arguably makes one’s degree more personally valuable. In either situation, parents are often required to submit their own income information to their child’s college of choice so that the school may determine how much financial aid that aspiring student will receive.

Determining financial aid can be a tricky business if the student in question has divorced parents. Increasingly, courts are opting to place the responsibility of tuition cost on one parent or another as a matter of child support or as part of a divorce settlement. However, many parents are not required to act in any particular way in regards to college financial aid or tuition on behalf of their children.

One of the few obligations that a custodial parent must engage in is filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA). Whichever parent has custody of the child for the most nights in any given year, or whichever parent is deemed to have sole or primary custody by the courts, is considered to be the child’s custodial parent by law.

The FASFA form will help your child’s college of choice determine how much financial aid he or she will receive generally. Filling out the form does not obligate parents to contribute to their child’s education but it will help to determine how much of a child’s tuition will need to be paid by him, her or a parent each year.

Source: Forbes, “What Divorcing Women Need To Know About College Financial Aid For Their Children,” Jeff Landers, May 1, 2014

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