Tips for Managing College Expenses During Divorce
Planning how you will pay for college costs for your children can be difficult if you divorced or in the process of divorcing. However, it’s still quite feasible—millions of divorced parents have made it work, though there may be some struggle involved.
Here are a few tips for divorced or divorcing parents as they attempt to navigate the expenses of paying for a college education for their children.
- Review your divorce agreement: If you’re already divorced, double check your settlement documents and see if there is anything in there about college costs. If not, it can be beneficial to establish a voluntary college support agreement, which outlines responsibilities for college costs and the way those costs will be paid. Each parent might commit to saving a certain amount per child, or covering a certain percentage of costs.
- Communicate and plan together: It can be understandably difficult to spend time communicating with your ex about anything, especially something that involves as much planning as saving for college. But if you’re able to work together, there are a variety of ways you can divide those responsibilities, including funding 529 college savings accounts and working on other savings methods.
- Get familiar with FAFSA: FAFSA exists to provide students with financial difficulties a way to still get a college education. If you’re divorced there might be a few extra complications for filing the FAFSA paperwork. For the purposes of FAFSA, the person responsible for filing the paperwork is usually whoever the student lives with for the majority of a calendar year. If the student splits time equally between the homes, the custodial parent will be the one who provided primary financial support. The non-custodial parent can still contribute to the costs, but their income and assets will not be included in determining the Expected Family Contribution for FAFSA.
- Tax credits: Keep in mind there are a variety of tax credits available for paying for college tuition, so long as you claim the student as a dependent In addition, there are certain benefits for your children in terms of financial aid dependent upon which parent may claim a child.
- Child Support Credits: If you are the party paying child support, you should make sure you enter into an agreement (if you have not done so already) to ensure that you receive the room and board credit. This credit is a dollar for dollar reduction of your child support obligation relative to the child attending college. Normally, this reduction is prorated over the entire year. It is important that this is provided for in your agreement or a subsequent agreement.
For more information about dealing with college costs as a divorcing or divorced parent, contact an experienced divorce lawyer at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia LLP.