Britt Erica Tunick is an award winning financial journalist who has spent the past 17 years writing about virtually every aspect of finance. She has mastered the art of boiling down complicated financial topics for readers to understand.
The Impact of Divorce on Financial Aid
By Britt Erica Tunick
Like it or not, “Til death do us part” doesn’t always end up that way and close to 50% of marriages still end in divorce within 20 years, according to the findings of the National Survey of Family Growth. While divorce is never pleasant and can be difficult on families, one area where it can actually be beneficial is the financial aid a child receives for college. That’s right, if you are divorced, or separated for at least six months, there is a good chance your child may be eligible for more financial aid than they would be if you were still married depending on the school your child chooses.
Since many colleges and universities use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine a child’s eligibility for financial aid, this can be beneficial to the bottom line when it comes to financial aid. Unlike the College Scholarship Service form (CSS) that tends to be used for non-federal grants or scholarships by some schools, the FAFSA only asks for financial information about the custodial parent, along with any child support income, and does not take into consideration the income of the other parent. As a result, your child may be eligible for a larger financial aid package than they would be if you were still married.
Keep in mind, however, that financial aid packages are not set in stone for the four or more years your child attends college. As a result, if the custodial parent re-marries before the FAFSA paperwork for a child’s final year of school is completed, it could lower the amount of financial aid a child is eligible for. That’s because the FAFSA also takes into account any income or financial holdings of a step-parent as well. So, like it or not, parents of college-age students who are considering getting remarried may want to hold off on doing so, or at least consult a financial advisor first to see how it could change how your child’s college education is financed.
If the school your child is interested in requires the CSS form, the income of both parents may be factored into the financial aid package your child is eligible for, regardless of whether or not you are divorced.
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