Divorce can lead to less support for college students

Published: Monday, June 6 2011 11:02 a.m. MDT

There may be another facet of divorce that could be harmful to kids — less help with college than their peers whose parents are not divorced, even if both parents remarry.

A recent study published in the Journal of Family Issues found that children of divorced parents contribute less to the college costs of their sons or daughters than married parents do.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that while married couples will fund about 77 percent of tuition costs of their children, divorced parents fund about 42 percent of their children's college cost. Even if a parent remarries and makes the same amount with their new spouse as they did before, the divorced parents will still only pay for about 53 percent of their child's tuition altogether.

"The cost burden of higher education is shifted to the student in families with divorced or remarried parents," the lead author of the study, Ruth N. Lopez Turley, told The Wall Street Journal. "Remarried parents face (an entirely different) set of obligations. Often, there's a (different) family to consider, and stepkids. With that, resources are diluted."

Fox 2 Now in St. Louis spoke with a divorce attorney on Monday morning, Margo Green, who said college funds are often included in settlements.

"We are now seeing that divorced children are once again being hurt by the division of the property," Green told the news station, adding that parents who divorce should decide to keep the college fund in tact for the child's sake.

A CBS blogger, Lynn O'Shaughnessy, wrote last week about how important it is for parents to save for college and to start saving early.

"Every $1 you stash away for college will save you from borrowing $3," O'Shaughnessy wrote on Thursday. "Procrastinate and your college costs can easily triple. Obviously when you consider the high cost of borrowing, saving every dollar you can now is truly a no-brainer."

And interestingly enough, students who graduate from college are less likely to divorce, The San Diego Union Tribune reported on Friday.

"College graduates, on average, earn much more, have lower unemployment rates, enjoy their work more, divorce less, live longer and retire more comfortably than those who did not go to college," the paper reported. "While some will do well without college, graduation dramatically improves your chance of success."

EMAIL: slenz@desnews.com TWITTER: saralenz

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