Washington Post: Children Of Divorce Pay More For College Education

Posted on Jan 12, 2011
Divorcing parents have long asked, what long-term effects will divorce have on my children? Now, a new study shows that one notable disadvantage the children of divorced parents may have has to do with college funding.

Researchers Ruth N. López Turley and Matthew Desmond recently published a new article in the Journal of Family Issues that found that the children of divorcees receive less financial support from their parents than the children of married couples. In fact, divorced parents contributed 1/3 less money towards college than married parents, leaving their children to pick up a larger remainder of the bill. Parents who remain together give their children an average of $4,700 for college per year, while divorced parents give their children an average of $1,500 annually. Parents who have been divorced but have since remarried contribute an average of $2,500 per year.

The research, which used data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study in the 1995-1996 academic year, found that the children of divorced parents are responsible for about 58 percent of their college costs, while the children of married parents only need to contribute 23 percent of the costs of their higher education. Children with remarried parents must front 47 percent of their college costs. The authors of the study believe that the main reason for this difference is simply that divorced couples make less than married couples who are able to split bills and pool resources. However, the researchers note that although remarried parents made the same amount of money as those who stayed married, they still contributed less to the college educations of children of past marriages.

What can divorcing parents do to stop this trend? Make sure that you and your spouse discuss college savings, no matter how old your children are now.

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