Divorce is often fraught with disagreements. One topic that may not always be top of mind, but nonetheless very important, is how to pay for your children’s college education. There are several schools of thought on who should pay for college, should you save up for it, or should you just take out student loans? Obviously each of these approaches has its pros and cons, but what is most important is doing what’s best for you and your children.
This week I sat down with College Funding Specialist and financial expert Brad Baldridge. Brad has a wealth of experience helping families determine the best course of action in planning their finances for college. In this episode of Divorce & Other Things You Can Handle, we discuss how best to financially plan for college and how to navigate the process while being divorced.
When you first start discussing college options with your child, it is important to clearly define the limitations you or your family have when it comes to finances. If your child’s “dream school” is out of that price point, then be honest about what taking out loans may look like, and how it will impact them post-graduation. It’s natural for a child to assume that because they’ve been financially taken care of up to this point, their parent(s) will continue to cover those expenses, however it becomes a different story when it comes to college tuition. Additionally, it’s important to remember that college may not be the best option for your child. There are countless roads to a successful career, and not all of them include a four year degree.
Putting away $200-$300 per month per child would be ideal, however that can get very expensive quickly the more children you have. If you are able, discuss options with your ex to take the pressure off of your child. Being on the same page ahead of actually applying for college will make the process much smoother. Depending on your situation, preparing could look like finding the best lenders to choose for taking out loans. There are a lot of options, so researching will go a long way.
There’s a two year delay for when students are applying for financial aid. For instance, you may get divorced this year, but your child will be applying for aid for the next-coming school year, and the FAFSA will look at your taxes from the previous year. Keep this in mind as you navigate through applying for financial aid. It’s also important to plan for which parent the student will put on their application. There may be situations where it is more advantageous to put one parent over another, resulting in more aid. Additionally, applying as a single parent will usually provide for more assistance than if you apply with a recently remarried parent. Having these discussions ahead of time with your ex will help the process go more smoothly when the time comes to apply. College finances are a constantly changing landscape, so being aware and up to date on the details is very important.
Plan ahead and think about what your child will need as they start the process of looking at colleges. Your child won’t be ready for those discussions until the later part of their high school career, but doing the legwork ahead of time will make your life much easier as that time approaches. In addition to physically preparing for college, planning ahead financially as much as you can will also serve as a huge advantage to your child.
Brad Baldridge is a College Funding Specialist who has helped thousands of families plan and save for college with smart and proven strategies to save time, money and stress.
As a financial expert, blogger and host of the Taming the High Cost of College podcast, Brad has been sharing his college planning insights with clients, subscribers and listeners for nearly 20 years.
He teaches parents the best ways to save and pay for college, including how to find the right school, maximize financial aid and scholarships, avoid student loan debt, and make your children’s college dreams come true without wiping out your finances or retirement.
Since 1998, Brad has become one of the nation’s leading college planning and college financial experts. He offers life-changing advice through his private practice, his online platforms, and at numerous workshops, seminars and events each year.
The information provided to you today is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be specific recommendations or advice. Please consult with qualified professionals before acting on any of this material.
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