Crunching the Numbers on College Costs

Talking with your children about your divorce can be challenging, but talking with them about college is exciting. College can be expensive, so it is important to understand how much you and your ex-spouse are obligated to pay.

In determining the cost of higher education, courts consider the following factors: [1]

  1. Whether the parent, if still living with the child, would have contributed toward the costs of the requested higher education;
  2. The effect of the background, values and goals of the parent on the reasonableness of the expectation of the child for higher education;
  3. The amount of the contribution sought by the child for the cost of higher education;
  4. The ability of the parent to pay that cost;
  5. The relationship of the requested contribution to the kind of school or course of study sought by the child;
  6. The financial resources of both parents;
  7. The commitment to and aptitude of the child for the requested education;
  8. The financial resources of the child, including assets owned individually or held in custodianship or trust;
  9. The ability of the child to earn income during the school year or on vacation;
  10. The availability of financial aid in the form of college grants and loans;
  11. The child’s relationship to the paying parent, including mutual affection and shared goals as well as responsiveness to parental advice and guidance; and
  12. The relationship of the education requested to any prior training and to the overall long-range goals of the child.

Normally, the child’s assets and scholarships are first applied to college costs before either parent has an obligation to pay for the costs. In balancing these factors, courts help parties reach a fair and equitable contribution amount. Parents are also free to discuss and agree on what percentage each will pay and how loans are to be handled for college costs. Speaking with an attorney regarding college costs can help alleviate stress and make the process less intimidating.

[1] Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529, 545 (1982)

Are You Considering Divorce?

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