Who Pays for College After Divorce?

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You and your spouse are getting a divorce and you’re wondering how much you’ll need to contribute your child’s college education. Whether your children are minors or are about to enter college, it’s never too early to start planning.

Laws vary from state to state. Thus, whether you’ll be responsible will depend upon which state you live in. Some state laws may require a divorced parent to financially support a child in college, even when there is no college support agreement in place. Some judges may order the non-custodial parent to pay. The judge often weighs factors like the non-custodial parent’s ability to pay, access to other forms of support such as scholarships or federal student aid.

You and your spouse may be able to enter into an agreement about who will pay for college. You may each to decide to contribute a specific amount, or you may decide to split to the cost equally.

If you are considered a dependent student for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) purposes, you will need to provide information about your legal parent(s) on the application. It’s important that you, your spouse, or your child fill out and file the FAFSA correctly. The FAFSA assesses your and your family’s financial situation to determine how much you can afford to pay for college. There are many resources online that can help you fill out the FAFSA. The chart below is a quick guide to properly filling out a FAFSA.


1. Kirkham, Elyssa. “A Divorced Parent’s Guide to Paying For College – With or Without the Ex.” Student Loan Hero, Student Loan Hero, 30 May 2018, studentloanhero.com/featured/student-loans-and-divorce-work-together/.

2. “What Is the FAFSA and How Does It Work?” CommonBond, 6 Mar. 2018, www.commonbond.co/post/what-is-the-fafsa-and-how-does-it-work.