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Planning for children's college expenses after a divorce

While approximately 40 percent of marriages in Tennessee and around the country will end in divorce, 66 percent of married people do not have financial plans in place in case they get divorced or their spouses die. This can have a major impact on people's finances. When they have children who plan to attend college, it can make it even more difficult.

People should understand that if they get divorced, their expenses will double. Going from one house to two households means that there will not be as much money to pay for everything. At the same time, college tuition has become increasingly expensive. The College Board reports that tuition has been rising at a rate of 3 percent per year. The average cost for room and board, tuition and fees at a private four-year college is now $46,950 per year. For a public four-year institution, the average total yearly cost is now $20,770.

Having a plan in place for how college expenses will be paid is important. If people get divorced, they might need to scale down their plans for their children's college. For example, the children may need to investigate scholarships and federal financial aid, and they might also need to choose a public college instead of an expensive private school. Parents may also want to include college expenses in their parenting and child support agreements.

People who are planning to get divorced and who have children might want to discuss future college expenses with their divorce lawyers who may help their clients to plan for their children's college expenses and might also negotiate the inclusion of tuition payments in the parenting and child support agreements. This might help the clients to be able to afford their children's college tuition bills more easily when the time comes.

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