To Pay (Or Not Pay) For College

college.jpgIn Georgia, there is no requirement that either parent, custodial or noncustodial pay for college expenses. However, if the parties agree to pay for college expenses as part of their settlement agreement it will be enforced by the Court.

If college expenses become a part of your settlement negotiations, there are some important points to remember:

 

In Georgia, there is no requirement that either parent, custodial or noncustodial pay for college expenses. However, if the parties agree to pay for college expenses as part of their settlement agreement it will be enforced by the Court.

If college expenses become a part of your settlement negotiations, there are some important points to remember:

College expenses are not the same as child support and you have no obligation to agree to pay for them.

Set limits on the price you will pay for tuition. It is nearly impossible to guess what the cost of a 4 year education will cost in the future. It is also almost impossible to predict where your child or children will choose to go to school. Are you will to pay for tuition, books, and room and board at Harvard or Yale? What happens if your child is accepted to La Sorbonne in France? One strategy to keep from ending up with wild variations in possible outcomes is to tie the price to the cost of in-state tuition at a public University. Your children may choose to go anywhere in the world for school, but your obligation will not change based on their choice.

Set limits on the type of degree you will pay for. Do you really want to obligate yourself to paying for a terminal degree like a Ph.D. or an M.D. Most parties intend to pay for a B.S. or a B.A. Make your agreement specific.

Set time limits. While not every student will graduate in four years, is it reasonable for you to have a ten or fifteen year obligation? Most students should be able to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in 6 years. There may be times when a student is forced to go part-time. The extra 2 years gives the student an opportunity to make adjustments because “life happens.”

Set conditions on payment. Do you want to pay for tuition if your child has a failing grade point average? Do you want to pay if they are not full time? Are you willing to pay for an apartment if your child wants to move out of the dorms? What happens if the child doesn’t go to school during the summer but has an unpaid internship that may turn into a valuable opportunity? All of these issues need to be considered before you sign on the line.

Determine what expenses will be covered. Does room and board include beer? Be as explicit as possible. Typically, parents agree to split the cost of room and board, books and tuition. Other items to consider include car and the requisite insurance and health insurance. No matter what you decide, be explicit.

If you decide to make college expenses part of your settlement agreement, spend time planning a budget and working with your lawyer to anticipate costs that may spin out of control. If the language of your agreement is vague, the courts will decide what is “reasonable” and force you to comply. If the court determines that Ivy League tuition is reasonable under the circumstances, you’re stuck! Take the time to plan.

Related Website: www.cordellcordell.com

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