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Divorced parents and college tuition costs

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2024 | High Asset Divorce

One thing that divorcing New Jersey parents may want to include in any judgments signed by the court is their separate responsibilities to support their children through college.

Many parents who don’t want to see their children financially strapped for decades paying off student loans willingly contribute to the costs of their kids’ post-secondary educations. But are they required to?

Circumstances dictate responsibilities

Before determining the parental responsibilities to shoulder the burden of college tuition and associated costs, the courts look at many aspects of the situation. Some of those factors are listed below:

  • The total amount their child is seeking from them for university tuition
  • The relationship between the parent and the child enrolled in college
  • The resources and incomes of both parents
  • Whether or not the child has exhausted all avenues of financial aid, e.g., scholarships and grants

These are not the only aspects the courts may consider when determining a parent’s financial obligations to support their children through college. Other factors can (and often do) apply.

How a FERPA form can be used

The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects private student school records at any school receiving funding from programs that apply under the Department of Education.

Typically, parents retain the right to access their minor children’s school records. But once their kids turn 18 and/or enroll in post-secondary educational programs, those rights transfer to the eligible students themselves. 

However, in some circumstances where the child requests financial support from their parent(s), courts have ruled that eligible students have an “affirmative obligation to complete and sign a FERPA form” that grants the parent(s) access to their class schedules, grades, financial information and other pertinent information.  The students cede their control over this normally private information in exchange for accepting financial contributions from their parents.

Not every situation requires such measures. But it might be helpful to learn more about the FERPA rights and responsibilities when divorcing parents have college-bound kids.


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