As a New Jersey parent, you can be required to contribute toward your adult child’s higher education expenses. College is expensive and most young men and women are unable to meet these costs themselves. But the price difference between colleges can be extreme. In New Jersey, one year’s tuition at Rutgers University costs just under $11,000. One year at Fairleigh Dickinson University runs more than $37,000 and New Jersey’s most expensive university, Drew University, costs more than $44,000 in tuition per year for New Jersey residents.
Although you can be on the hook for your child’s college costs, can you be required to pay for an expensive private education when there are public, cheaper alternatives available? This question came to light in 2014 with the Christina Ricci case, in which a 21-year-old college student sued her parents for her $16,000 Temple University tuition bill. In a similar New Jersey college cost case, a divorced father was ordered to pay more than $112,000 toward his daughter’s Cornell Law School bill.
These cases set a legal precedent that can be unsettling for divorced parents of college-bound teens: you can be required to pay for your child’s expensive education.
If you are a parent going through a divorce, talk to your spouse and your attorney about stipulating who will pay for college and any related restrictions in your divorce settlement. In the cases listed above, the parents did not specify that their children must attend local college or live at home during their matriculation. If your agreement does not explicitly state that you may veto an expensive college choice, you might not have the ability to do so.
In some cases, a parent is only required to pay for his or her child’s college expenses under certain circumstances. These circumstances may include that the student live at home and attend a local college or that he or she maintain a certain grade point average. Discuss these options with your attorney and if your child is planning on attending college within the next few years, your child.
When a young adult goes to college, it affects the whole family. Although you naturally want to do all you can to provide for your son or daughter, you might not be able to afford everything he or she needs. Your child’s college education does not have to bankrupt you. For legal guidance as you navigate the world of college expenses and parental expectations following a divorce, call The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC. at (732) 365-3299 to schedule a consultation with a member of our firm. We are proud advocates for New Jersey families throughout Burlington, Ocean, Monmouth, Mercer, and Middlesex counties.