There is no one-size-fits-all approach that divorced parents in Virginia can look to when determining how to pay for their children’s college education. When parents get divorced while their children are very young, some may not even think about including provisions for higher education at that time. As the time for a child to go to college nears, parents then must face the challenge of figuring out who will pay what portion of the costs.
According to Forbes, no parent is under any legal obligation to pay for a child’s college education unless there are specific provisions indicating an obligation in an original divorce decree. If this is the case, parents may wish to enter into a new agreement or amendment to the original decree that outlines the responsibilities surrounding college tuition and other costs for the joint children.
Any plan should take into account more than simply the cost of tuition. Attending college costs far more than just tuition alone. Room and board, books, entertainment, mobile phones, health insurance, and auto insurance are just some of the other costs that may be incurred over the course of time that a child is in college.
Even if both parents agree to take part in funding their child’s college education, only one parent’s information may be required when submitting an application for federal financial aid. The U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid explains that who the child lived primarily with for the 12 months preceding the application may dictate which parent’s information should be provided. If the child lived more with the mother than the father, the mother’s information is used. If time was shared equally, the parent who provided the greatest financial support over that time should provide details for aid purposes.