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Who Pays College Tuition?

Many parents are intimated by the enormous expense of college education for their children. Florida law requires all parents to support their children until the age of majority. Divorced parents share the responsibility as outlined in their support agreements. Many agreements do not address the issue of higher education since the child is over 18 when they begin. The responsibility of college tuition can be negotiated after a divorce as long as parents are willing to pay it some attention, but it is preferable to anticipate this significant future cost while creating your initial agreement.

What should a college tuition agreement include?

Keep in mind that more than just tuition costs need to be included in your agreement, including:

  • Book fees
  • Registration fees
  • Dorm fees
  • Meal plan or food budget
  • Travel costs to and from school

These unanticipated costs can add up to a significant amount and should be divided equitably. The court prefers that neither parent is unduly burdened with the cost of college education unless there is significant financial disparity between them.

What are some payment options?

Your agreement can include conditions governing payment of future tuition costs. Be certain to include the terms of payment in your agreement so you are never in a position of non-payment with the school, as this could affect your child’s enrollment.

Some options to consider include:

  • A lump sum upfront designated for tuition
  • A tuition-sharing agreement with alternating payments
  • Financial aid and loan packages

Public versus private school

In some states, family courts have instituted a cap on tuition commensurate with the cost of a state-subsidized university education. The court can order the parents to provide a maximum of the cost of a state school, with the provision that if one parent chooses to exceed that amount, the second parent is exempt from the additional cost.

In the event the parents are not able to reach an agreement regarding tuition payment, one parent might be able to force the other by court order. Your family law attorney can help you navigate all of the negotiations needed to secure college tuition payments for your children.

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