Spring and high school graduation are just around the corner. Has you high school senior applied for loans and scholarships? Have you filled out your FAFSA forms yet? Have you picked yourself up off the floor at the cost of a college education?

We hear it all the time- you need a college degree to get a good job. The media has gone a great job to make everyone feel that without a 2 year or 4 year degree, your earning potential is limited. Now, how does a single parent or high school senior finance college! With the rising costs of a college education, more divorced custodial parents are asking courts to require the non-custodial parent to share in college expenses for their children.
In many established court orders, college support may already be part of ongoing child support or an additional obligation after regular child support ends. Many states have laws that allow the courts to require the non-custodial parent to assist with college costs. These states are: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Washington. Even with this measure in place, the burden is still on the custodial to find a way to assist the child in funding college expenses and enforcing the non-custodial parent’s responsibility to pay.

There are many factors in determining what contribution the non-custodial parent should make to college costs, including:

• Would the parents have contributed toward the costs of college if the parents were still living together
• The financial resources of the child and both parents
• The child’s academic achievements and goals
• The availability of financial aid in the form of scholarships and loans
• Input from the non-custodial parent in college selection and goal setting
• Can the parties come up with a voluntary plan to help fund college outside the court’s jurisdiction

If is up to the courts to determine, if the parents cannot, what a fair amount of support is. Political talking heads talk of free college tuition, but is it really free? The funding needs to come from somewhere. It may be best to try and work out a payment scenario outside the courts so the burden is equal for all, parents and the student.