Financial Aid And Divorce: Tips For Students And Parents

Divorce is stressful in many ways; some of these issues are not discovered until well after the divorce is final and the judge's ink is dry on the divorce decree. One common issue, especially with families that have adult or near-adult children, is the issue of financial aid for the children to go to college. The following tips will help ease the financial aid application process for all concerned, and take one less problem off the plate for the entire family.


When applying for financial aid for college, it is important to understand that the definition of custody as it applies to financial aid is quite different than the divorce court's definition of custody. In the case of financial aid, the issue of custody is determined by who the student lived with for the majority of the preceding year. In other words, which parent (or step-parent) provided the most financial support to the student in the year in question.


Reporting the income of the family can be confusing enough when dealing with a traditional two-parent family that has no divorce involved. When adding in a divorce and possibly step-parents, the waters can be muddied. Again, it is important that the student and parents understand that the income of every adult involved in the family does not have to be reported. The custodial parent - the parent that the student lived with the most in the previous year - is the person who must report their income on the student's financial aid application. 

Parental Obligation

It is also important to determine up-front what the financial obligation for each parent is, when it comes to the costs of the student's education. It can be beneficial to determine these issues at the time of divorce, and have the divorce court make a ruling on who is responsible for the child's education, and what each parent's financial obligation will be once the child gets to college. This will help fend off many issues that may arise later.


Perhaps the most important aspect of the financial aid process for students and parents is communication. The student should be encouraged to talk to parents about the costs of education and how these costs are going to be met. The parents and step-parents should keep an open line of communication with the student and each other so everyone is on the same page as far as financial aid and covering the bills for the student's education. For more information, contact a law office, such as Grenadier, Starace, Duffett & Keisler, PC.