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Paying for college tuition when you are a divorced parent

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.

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  • Hi Yuliana and Attorney Prince, Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to meet with me. I really appreciated how compassionate you were while listening to my situation, even through my tears. Thank you so much for sharing such valuable information with me. I left feeling very hopeful that when the dust settles, I’ll be ok.
  • Wendy helped guide us through a very difficult and emotional process and was really able to provide an even and fair account for both parties. It's quite evident in her expertise in this area but the way she was able to make you feel safe and secure in a very insecure time goes far beyond her legal prowess. If the two parties are really willing to cooperate and collaborate, she's there to help gain the best possible solution for all involved, especially if there are children.
  • Regardless of how committed one is to the fact that divorce may be imminent and necessary, it is truly one of the most emotional and stressful situations one can experience. It can also be daunting. Wendy has a remarkable ability to cut through the noise and help you focus on the big picture while drilling down on what is most pertinent to your particular situation., they are a formidable team who work collectively with your best interests in mind.
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