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Consider college expenses during divorce negotiations

Like many divorced parents in California already know, divorce can have a significant impact on your finances. Divorced parents have several factors to consider during the divorce process, and one of the most important decisions regarding your child's future deals with college expenses. Who is expected to pay for college expenses after the divorce and how will financial aid be affected?

If you think your child will be attending college after high school, it is important to think about college expenses now during your divorce. Even if you're already divorced, being aware of how divorce may impact college expenses and financial aid is a crucial step in setting your child up for success as an adult. 

College expenses can vary greatly depending on the school your child attends. You may want to discuss college expenses during your divorce settlement negotiations so both you and your ex are aware of the future costs you will be expected to pay. It is helpful to discuss who will apply for financial aid as well as who will pay for certain items when your child attends college. This includes any agreement both parents come to such as only applying for financial aid and expecting your child to obtain his or her own federal or personal loans to pay for tuition. 

In addition to discussing college expenses during the divorce or if you have already gotten divorced, you should be aware of how applying for financial aid is impacted after getting divorced. The custodial parent is expected to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If both parents spend equal time with the child, then the parent who pays for more of the child's care should complete the form.

Filing out the FAFSA form is important because it looks at your income to see how much financial aid your child is eligible to receive. The form will ask you about your income and assets to see how much you are expected to help contribute to your child's education. It is important to note that if the parent filling out the form is remarried, his or her spouse's income will be included in this calculation. 

Discussing college expenses during or after your divorce may seem complicated or unnecessary but it is an important step to take to help your child's future and to make sure both parents are on the same page.

Source: Forbes, "What Divorcing Women Need To Know About College Financial Aid For Their Children," Jeff Landers, May 1, 2014

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