If you and your spouse decide to get a divorce, you may believe that it will be harder to pay for your child's college tuition. The truth is that a divorce might actually make it easier because your child may now be eligible to obtain additional financial aid.
Every family's situation is different, but usually, when you file for financial aid, the custodial parent supplies his or her salary for review. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), is the specific form used to determine if students qualify for federal aid.
A benefit of FAFSA is that it only requires the financial information from the custodial parent. In that case, it's possible to completely remove the other parent's income from the picture. For instance, if you earn $35,000 a year and the noncustodial parent earns $50,000, FAFSA documents only look at the $35,000 income, not $85,000 in combination. That can, in theory, help your child obtain more aid than if you and your ex-spouse were still married.
What happens if you decide to get remarried?
Keep in mind that if you decide to remarry, the FAFSA does look at a stepparent's income. If you're concerned about combining incomes affecting your child's schooling prospects due to a lack of financial aid, consider waiting until after the senior year FAFSA is processed. That way, it won't be affected by your remarriage.
If the custodial parent has a higher income, you may still be able to use the lower of both parents' incomes if you go through the Expected Family Contribution calculator through the College Board. This could mean that you pay a little bit more, but not all colleges use it. It's a good idea to stick with those that rely on FAFSA alone.
These are a couple things to consider about your child's college education and right to financial aid. A divorce could help your child obtain more compensation.