Children of Divorced Parents Lose Out on College Financial Aid

Children of Divorced Parents Lose Out on College Financial Aid
  • Opening Intro -

    When parents divorce, children lose out in a number of ways.

    That loss is evident in the financial pressures families face even if one or both parents remarry.


Divorce Impact

A recent study conducted by Rice University shows that children of divorced parents may miss out on some college financial aid, even if their parents remarry.

Parents who stay married are able to meet 77 percent of their children’s tuition costs and contribute an additional 8 percent of their income to meet their college expenses according to the study. The Rice University study was led by Ruth N. Lopez Turley, an associate professor of sociology at this Houston school.

Diverted Funds

Divorce forces many parents to divert funds for their children’s education to cover other expenses including the need to maintain two separate households. Following a divorce, parents meet 42 percent of their children’s tuition costs and contribute about 6 percent of their income. The study surveyed 2,400 undergraduate students and was published in SAGE Publications’ June 2011 issue of its “Journal of Family Issues.”

Should parents remarry, children only fare moderately better than those who remain divorced. The study reveals that remarried parents meet 53 percent of their children’s tuition costs, but contribute just 5 percent of their income. The study found that the numbers remained low even as the income levels of the remarried parents rose, matching incomes of the earlier marriage.

Blended Families

Remarried parents often must deal with issues not apparent in other situations including blended families and sometimes children who are the product of a new marriage. Diluted funds mean that children of divorced parents will have to settle for less. The researchers concluded that such students are then forced to explore financial options, sometimes at the expense of furthering their own education.

Another problem children of divorced parents face is obtaining financial aid. The FAFSA document is the most significant way students can qualify for help, but researchers have determined that children who are in families where their parents stay married receive the best aid packages.


Journal of Family Issues; Contributions to College Costs by Married, Divorced, and Remarried Parents; June 2011


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Categories: Finance