Divorce affects families on an emotional, physical and financial level. More specifically, your separation or divorce could end up severely impacting your ability to provide a college education for your children. This is especially true for parents with sole custody or those who have absent partners.
If both parents cannot or will not work together to prepare for your child’s college expenses, the burden falls to the custodial parent. Under Louisiana law, the non-custodial parent is not legally responsible to pay for any college related expenses. In most cases child support ends at the age 18. While child support may, in some instances, extend to age 19, it should never be considered the sole means of financial planning for college.
If you find yourself making college savings preparations alone, or if you and your co-parent just want more information about this challenging process, the following tips can help:
1. Stay Focused
Rather than creating combined educational funds or assuming multiple children will attend the same university, it is more prudent to focus on each child’s needs, desires, and abilities (financial and otherwise) separately.
2. Time It Right
The time to browse available scholarships is, at latest, one year in advance of your child’s high school graduation.
3. Do Your Research
Make good use of education-based organizations such as The College Benefits Research Group, which can help undecided teens find the right fit for their educational goals (and their parents’ financial ones).
4. Consider State Assistance
Consider prepaid college plans such as START, offered by The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance. Check out this chart to see how different state tuition plans stack up against one another.
5. Look Before You Leap
Before moving on to a new relationship or marriage, consider the effect it will have on your finances—specifically your ability to pay for college.
6. Ask a Professional
Most importantly, and in addition to any steps you take on your own, be sure to find a good financial advisor as soon as possible. The short-term expense will definitely pay off in the long run.
If you will be responsible for paying your child’s college expenses, be sure to begin preparations early. Look at schools that provide need-based financial aid, merit based scholarships, work study programs, and other forms of tuition assistance. These resources, combined with your prudent planning (both pre and post-divorce), will be the financial safety net your child needs to get a solid secondary education.
Considering separation or divorce and wondering how it will affect your child’s educational future? Call (985) 807-1410 and schedule a free initial consultation with Charles Branton today.