Divorced Parents Spend Less on College

Aug 8, 2012 by

An recent article titled “Contributions to College Costs by Married, Divorced, and Remarried Parents” by researchers Ruth N. López Turley, associate professor of sociology at Rice University, and Matthew Desmond, a junior fellow at Harvard University, proposes that students coming from families of divorced or remarried parents will have to pay twice as much of their share of college education as students whose parents stay married.

The researchers found a three-to-one disparity in that on the average divorced parents contributed about $1,500 toward annual college costs, while the average married parents contributed over $4,500 a year. Contributions from parents who divorced and then remarried, fell somewhere in the middle at about $2,500 a year. The result is that students coming from divorced households will pay nearly 60% of their own college costs, while their counterparts from homes with married parents will pay for less than a quarter of the same educational expenses.

The situation is not improved by the fact that most divorced parents earn income less and spend less than married parents. The researchers found that while married parents contributed about 8% of their income to their children’s’ annual college expenses and divorced parents contributed about 6% of theirs, the difference in total incomes creates a wider gap in contributions since the median income of married parents was almost double that of divorced or separated parents. Parents that had remarried often earned nearly as much as married parents, but still contributed less toward college expenses with the average being about 5% of their total annual incomes.

The trend toward less contribution toward education is not good news for college students with divorced, separated or remarried parents. A down-turned economy and recent changes to financial aid requirements that now require parents to cover a larger portion of the costs of sending a kid to college only exacerbate the predicament. Unfortunately, it seems students coming from divorced families will probably continue to bear more of the costs of their own college education for the foreseeable future.


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