Today, a college education averages about $43,000 per year for a 4-year private school. The average for a 4-year public school is $19,000 per year. Tuition and fees at both levels continue to increase every year by 3%. Many of us don?t have a lot of cash lying around, which makes us wonder how we are going to pay for college without breaking the bank.
Paying for college can be an especially difficult subject when you are divorced from your spouse. Regardless of how this topic was handled in your divorce decree, you may still want to be able to pay for college, and you need to do some serious planning in order to achieve this. The following are a few suggestions that can help you pay for college and not unreasonably affect your own finances. The sooner you start to understand the planning and application process that comes with getting ready for college, the more money you may be able to save on the cost of tuition.
Search for Scholarships
An excellent way to pay for tuition is to get your hands on some free money. This comes in the form of scholarships. You can start your scholarship search as early as your child?s junior year of high school. You can find available scholarships through their school, your church, workplace, or even extracurricular activities. Consult your child?s high school or career counselor to help you search for scholarships. Applying for scholarships can be very time consuming, so be sure to plan ahead and get them turned in on time. Some applications require an essay from the student, so be sure to add enough time for that as well.
Apply to More than One College and Compare Award Letters
Even though the college application process can be expensive, applying to more than one school gives you the flexibility to choose and compare the costs of several different schools before making our final choice.
By the end of March or April of your student?s senior year, you should get an award letter from the school you have chosen with the details of the financial aid they offer. The letter may include information about federal student loans, scholarships, and grants. After looking over your award letter, you will have a better idea of how much more money you will need to find to pay for college.
Fill Out the FAFSA
You and your student will need to complete the FAFSA after January 1st of their senior year in high school, and every college year after that. Completing the FAFSA gives you the chance to qualify for federal student aid.
When to Call Our Office
If you are a divorced parent needing to pay for college and you have a child support order, the time to call our office is right before your child begins their senior year of high school. There is no magic formula the Courts use to determine how post-minority support is paid, as this type of support for college expenses is completely discretionary for the Court. This is also why each state treats this issue differently. Some states disallow this support, while others support it by state statute.
Pursuant to Section 513 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the court is able to make provisions for educational expenses for the children of the marriage, whether or not they are of minority or minor age. This support is for any period that the child is still attending high school, even past the age of 18, as well as for college education or other professional training after high school.
Expenses for this include tuition, room and board, transportation, books, application fees, medical expenses (including insurance), as well as living expenses during school and school breaks. The court will also take into account the financial resources of both of the parents and the standard of living the child would have been accustomed to if the marriage had not ended. It is best to wait until your child has a more definitive idea of his or her choice of college before petitioning the Court for post-minority child support, as the Court will want to know more precise figures and costs for the child?s tuition, expenses, room and board, and other living expenses.
Don?t wait. The time to modify your child support order to cover college tuition is right now. Here at Sherer Law Offices, our experienced family law attorneys will submit the proper paperwork for you to get your order amended so that you will have help paying for college when the time comes.