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Virginians can plan for their child’s college costs post-divorce

Getting a college education is a dream many parents in Leesburg have for their children. However, paying for college these days is not cheap. It can cost parents anywhere on average from $20,770 to $46,950 per year, depending on whether the college is a private college or an in-state school. Some parents may have set aside a savings account when their child was young, with the intention on using it to pay for their child’s college education when the time comes.

However, no one can predict the future, and sometimes a person’s marriage does not last. For parents who decide to divorce before their child is grown, they may find themselves caring for a child on a single-income, paying child support or paying spousal maintenance. This means that money that might have gone to the college fund is now being funneled to pay for other expenses.

Therefore, parents and their college-bound child may want to sit down and carefully take a second look at their situation. They will need to decide whether to pursue an education at a less-expensive public college, whether they will apply for scholarships or grants and what is available to them in student loans. There are still options for affording college, even if a divorce has diminished the amount saved in a college savings account.

Some parents may have established a 529 account prior to their divorce. Usually, just one spouse owns this account. If the account is earmarked to pay for their child’s college expenses, those funds will be used for that purpose. If those funds are used for purposes other than paying for the costs of higher education, the parent will incur a penalty and will have to pay taxes on the distribution. However, it is possible for a person to transfer ownership of a 529 account or change the beneficiaries on an account. If parents plan to take these steps as part of the property division process, it is important to specifically account for this in their divorce decree.

In the end, divorce doesn’t need to derail your child’s college dreams. It may just take some extra thought and planning. How a college savings account or a 529 account is handled during the property division process is important, so those who are going through a divorce will want to make sure they understand what options they have for securing funding for their child’s higher education.

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