I’ve had a few meetings this past week with separating and divorcing couples who are planning for college for their children. Besides it being heartbreaking as I’ve been through the process myself, I’m mixed with emotion. I’m glad that these parents are able to come together for the benefit of their children. I’m saddened that the kids don’t even realize what is to come. I’m happy knowing that I’ve reduced some of the overwhelm for both parents and that they are now able to make informed financial decisions for each of their respective futures.
The first thing that I can’t stress enough to parents in this situation is to speak with your kids. Set expectations with your child in regards to finances. Work towards a common goal. College is a major expense. Do not feel guilty that you might be unable to afford a college that costs $80,000 plus per year. Many people can't! Do not feel the need to take on enormous student loan debt because you feel guilty about the divorce. You are then potentially jeopardizing your own retirement.
Realize, at the same time, that the kids are not able to take out student loans on their own to cover the $80,000 plus college if you do not wish to pay. Freshmen typically can only take out $5,500 in federal student loans. Keep this number in mind when considering college costs.
Be strategic, always, when planning for divorce and for college. Learn what money moves to make as you separate and divorce and learn what colleges to apply to that will benefit both you and your child. Each person/household has a different situation with regards to income and assets. It’s important to know what will work best for you so that you are able to maximize savings on the cost of college.
Understand that no matter where your child attends college, whether public or private, in state or out of state, they will have opportunities for success! The key is to encourage our children to maximize these opportunities once they are on campus.
Speak with your attorneys or mediators about college. Every state has different guidelines. Some states do not require college to be paid for by the parents. That said, I am still hopeful that the majority of parents will want to do what is best for their children, married or not, and come to agreements in regards to paying for college. If this is not the case, while you may see an increase in expenses due to your divorce, try to minimize the burden placed on your children. As we know, the divorce isn’t their fault.
Realize, though, that after divorce circumstances change. Things such as remarriage, changes in child support or spousal support may all affect financial aid that the student receives.
Unfortunately, life happens. It doesn’t always go exactly as we had planned. Maybe we were unable to save enough money to fully fund our child’s dream college. Or, maybe life just got in the way. Regardless, it is possible for all of our children to receive a great college education at a cost that can be manageable for each of us.
If you (or a friend) are dealing with both Divorce and College, contact College Financial Prep as early as possible in the college planning process. We have successfully helped parents save hundreds of thousands of dollars on the cost of college. Click the link below to schedule a brief, introductory call.
Vicki Vollweiler is the founder of College Financial Prep, with a specialty in the area of Divorce and College. College Financial Prep helps parents navigate college planning, college affordability, financial aid, scholarships and student loans. Vicki, a member of the National Association of Divorce Professionals, is a divorced parent who understands the additional financial and emotional complexities of planning for college when separated and divorced.
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College Financial Prep provides families with cost saving strategies, scholarship research and financial aid preparation. Contact College Financial Prep today at 516-225-5224!