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Tips for Divorced Parents Paying for Children’s College Education

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2023 | Family Law |

Paying for college is stressful for most parents. According to the College Board, for the 2021-2022 school year, tuition, fees, and room and board cost on average $27,330 for a public in-state university, $44,150 for a public out-of-state university, and $55,800 for a private university. The difficulty of this process can increase when the parents are divorced or separated. Here are a few tips to help ease the stress and ensure that your child’s college education remains the top priority.

Plan Ahead

Studies show that 2 out of 3 couples do not have a financial plan in place for their children’s college education in the event of divorce. Consulting with a financial advisor when your child is young can help jumpstart this plan. Investing in a 529 College Savings Plan or an alternative savings plan can help college funds accumulate tax-free. Divorced or separated parents may consider dividing college account into two separate accounts for each parent to manage or allow both parents to access the account. Regardless of what you decide, planning ahead is necessary to ensure you are prepared when the time comes to send your child to college.

Talk About It

Many questions arise during this process that have to be answered well in advance to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible. Who will pay for college? Will both parents contribute equally? Where will the child attend? Will your child contribute? You will need to fully understand your financial situation and be transparent about it to determine how to best split the cost. Whether it is arranging a meeting with a financial advisor or mediator, or even creating a spreadsheet to keep track of expenses, you have to decide the best way to communicate with the other parent about costs. Laying everything out on the table and talking openly about it is key to creating a successful financial plan.

Apply for Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Grants

There are numerous resources out there to help pay for college, but you need to know where to look. FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) provides federal loans and financial aid annually. Research online sites such as or for scholarships. Utilize high school counselors or college advisors. In addition, both parents should take advantage of college fairs or “financial aid nights” hosted by your child’s school to become more knowledgeable about the college process and costs. Lastly, never forget to check the university’s website for school-specific scholarships, loans, or grants.

Let Your Child Have Some Control

In the end, it is your child’s future. Let them have some control regarding college application deadlines and college visits. If both parents cannot attend each visit, work out a plan that does not put your child in the middle. Most importantly, keep your child’s interests front and center throughout the entire process.

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