How divorce impacts college costs & financial aid

Posted on December 4th, 2013

It might seem unfair, but researchers from Rice University in Houston and the University of Wisconsin have found that martial status plays a significant role in college costs and financial aid.

Students from families of divorce pay more

According to a NY Times report and a study published in the Journal of Family Issues, college costs fall more heavily on students with divorced parents or remarried parents than on students with parents who have stayed married to each other.

divorced parents

Divorce can cause more of the financial burden of college to fall on the student.

The study found:

  • Married parents contributed about 8 percent of their income to their child’s college costs and met 77 percent of their children’s financial needs.
  • Divorced parents contributed about 6 percent of their income but met only 42 percent of their children’s financial needs.
  • Remarried parents contributed 5 percent of their income and met 53 percent of their children’s needs.

Though researchers found that remarried parents contribute less than parents who remain married to each other, despite similar income levels, they hypothesized that it was a bigger burden on these parents because of additional obligations, like the costs associated with a second family.

Ruth Lopez Turley, associate professor of sociology at Rice University and co-author of the paper about the study, summarized the impact of college costs on divorced families:

 What we’re seeing is that the cost burden of higher education is shifted to the student in families with divorced or remarried parents.

The findings are troubling for college-bound students with divorced, separated or remarried parents. They are at a disadvantage because they need to shoulder more of the costs of their education.

The study was published in December 2010, but divorce is still having a real impact on families applying to college.

If you’re divorced, remarried, or separated, we can help reduce your college costs and make sure your students gets the most financial aid possible. Give us a call at 1-888-234-3907, or send us a message using our contact form.

Category: Financial Aid

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