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Formulas for Divorced Parents

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Replies to: Formulas for Divorced Parents

  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 13,616 Senior Member
    Every school is required to have a Net Price Calculator.

    That's a requirement of the Dept of Education. College Board is a private company and they have the basic one that will tell you about federal aid but that's about it.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,176 Senior Member
    The College Board also offers a customizable template for colleges to use to build their own net price calculators. There are other places that also offer net price calculator templates. Of course, some colleges have completely unique net price calculators.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 9,847 Senior Member
    Then there's the "quick" tool used by a dozen or two selective colleges called MyIntuition - https://myintuition.org/

    But once you say your parents are divorced (at least that's the second question, not buried), you get a message like this:
    Like many colleges and universities, Rice adheres to a principle that both biological or adoptive parents, regardless of their current marital status, play a primary role in providing for their child's education. Because of this principle, Rice does require information about both biological or adoptive parents and does expect each to provide reasonable financial support during their child's time at Rice. It is also important to note that during the actual application process, there will be opportunities to provide additional information regarding the student’s biological or adoptive parents.

    You indicated that the student’s biological or adoptive parents are separated or divorced. You may use Rice’s Quick College Cost Estimator as a starting point to estimate each biological or adoptive parent's cost. You may then add the two biological or adoptive parent's costs together to arrive at general idea of your total estimated cost. It is important to remember that many family situations are complicated and this tool is only designed to provide you with an estimate. For additional information on treatment of specific family situations, please contact the Financial Aid Office/Office of Student Financial Services .

    ...which basically tells you to double it. From my experience with two kids having gone through ~20 FA packages in total, it never works like that.
  • amcquilkamcquilk Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    I suspect uncooperative non-custodial parents is one of the reasons colleges keep the information vague, as it gives them the flexibility to do what they deem appropriate in any given situation. For example, one school told me they use the FAFSA EFC as the starting point (using custodial parent and stepparent) and then adjust only if the non-custodial household has significantly more assets and income than the custodial household. This means if the non-custodial parent is totally uncooperative they still have something to go on. If the custodial parent is getting child support, this is probably also a good indicator of the non-custodial parent's income (the higher the income the higher the child support).

    In principle, I don't think the step-parents income should be counted, but I can see how this approach is also fair -- it's only taking into account one household and two parents, and reflects the lifestyle the student actually lives in.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,176 Senior Member
    edited October 13
    Uncooperative (in terms of filling in forms) non custodial parent usually means no financial aid from colleges that require the non custodial parent information.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 13,616 Senior Member
    But an uncooperative non-custodial parent is no different than an uncooperative custodial parent, at least as far as the student is concerned. Why should a student with a non-custodial parent (and really, we're talking about adults who are not really in a custodial situation anymore) who won't cooperate receive more aid than one whose parents will not pay for college? Students in either situation just need money for college.

    In fact, the student with the non-custodial parent who refuses to fill out forms is in a better place than the one in the custodial situation. The 'NCP' kid can go to a FAFSA only school and get aid based just on one parent. The kid who lives in a home where the parents are 'done' will have very limited aid options if the parents won't cooperate at all, or if they make a lot of money and just won't share.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 9,847 Senior Member
    The 'NCP' kid can go to a FAFSA only school and get aid based just on one parent.

    I think there are only 2-3 schools that meet full need with only FAFSA. So no, that's not really an option. That student's only real options are the same ones as the kid whose parents won't pay - big merit awards, like full tuition or more.

    #beenthere
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,176 Senior Member
    But an uncooperative non-custodial parent is no different than an uncooperative custodial parent, at least as far as the student is concerned.

    As a practical matter, students with divorced parents are more likely to be at a disadvantage here compared to students with married parents:

    a. Yes, custodial parents may be uncooperative, and this is a risk for students with both married and divorced parents.
    b. However, students with divorced parents need to gain cooperation from each parent separately, which lowers the chance of success compared to students with married parents who are more likely to be on the same page.
    c. Many divorces are nasty, and the parents who went through a nasty divorce are more likely to be uncooperative to spite each other (or avoid leaking their financial information to each other), even if it severely limits their kid's college choices.
    d. Even if the divorced parents are fully cooperative, they are likely to have less money to contribute, since maintaining separate households costs more (combined) than the shared household when they were married.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 13,616 Senior Member
    I think there are only 2-3 schools that meet full need with only FAFSA. So no, that's not really an option.

    Of course it is an option. Thousands of students go to FAFSA only schools and some are doing that because their parents wouldn't/couldn't pay for a more expensive school.

    Say a student's mother makes $30k and the father makes $200k, but the parents aren't going to contribute at all to college.

    1) If the parents are divorced and student lives with mother, the student files FAFSA with just mother's income and will likely qualify for some grants and subsidized loans. Probably won't get anything from a CSS school but this student can still afford a FAFSA only school.

    2) If parents aren't divorced, student files FAFSA with a $230k parental income. Will probably get nothing at a FAFSA only school, and probably nothing at CSS school. This student isn't able to afford any school.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 9,847 Senior Member
    @twoinanddone it's true the kid with the uncooperative NCP can get some Pell that the other kid can't get. Both get the same loans (sub or not it isn't more money during college).

    So something like $5800 a year, max.

    Beyond that, the situation is about the same - both kids need a guaranteed merit backup or affordable-at-full-price CC/regional that's commutable. However, if the married family earns $60k or $100k and won't pay but will do the forms, the kid will get more $ than the kid with the NCP who won't pay or do the extra form.

    I also agree with the points ucb made. I suspect it is far more common for NCPs to feel they can say no to paying or doing the forms at all, whether because of issues with the ex or distance from the kid. And any income goes a lot further in one household than it does in two.
  • amcquilkamcquilk Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    Having discussed this with several schools already, there is no question the uncooperative non-custodial parent is far more likely than the uncooperative custodial parent. Kids with uncooperative married parents can seek to be declared emancipated if they are truly getting no support from parents. Schools also have waivers in place, for the NCP who is truly out of the picture (some kids have no contact and no financial support from the NCP). The difficulty is for the kids where the NCP is still in the picture (pays child support, has some visitation) but just isn't willing to pay for college. Perhaps because of resentment at the CP, perhaps because they think child support should cover their contribution. Part of the reason is that the CP values the ongoing relationship with the child, whereas the NCP may not have that relationship. In addition, if the child isn't able to get a college education and become self-supporting, guess whose basement they will be occupying? Not the NCP's. So the CP has some self-interest in seeing the kid achieve success, whereas the NCP's support will end regardless of the kid's outcome. Regardless of the right and wrong or fairness of it, it is the situation colleges are seeing quite often and trying to come up with a fair way to deal with it.
  • BelknapPointBelknapPoint Registered User Posts: 2,810 Senior Member
    Kids with uncooperative married parents can seek to be declared emancipated if they are truly getting no support from parents.

    You must be talking about parents being "uncooperative" way beyond refusing to pay for college or not filling out FAFSA, because no court would ever grant emancipation on those grounds only.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 63,118 Senior Member
    Kids with uncooperative married parents can seek to be declared emancipated if they are truly getting no support from parents

    Adding to @BelknapPoint the process for emancipation from parents is lengthy...and MUST be completed prior to the 18th Birthday.

    And there is no way emancipation would be granted solely because parents won’t pay for college. Where did you hear that?
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 13,616 Senior Member
    One of the requirements to be emancipated is that the student can support himself. It's more common for actors and the computer whiz with money coming in for app development to get that status than the 16 year old from a poor family, who is more likely to be put into custody and a foster home if it is proven that the parents can't or won't take care of him. It is unlikely to happen if the child is getting the basics but not money for college, or just because he doesn't like his parents.

  • amcquilkamcquilk Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    I'm talking about the kid who truly gets no support from parents. Doesn't live with parents. May not be in the foster system, but might live with relatives or friends because parents are homeless drug addicts, in jail, or mentally ill. I'm not talking about a case where parents simply don't want to pay. My understanding is that the kid would have to demonstrate that they haven't received financial support from parents for several years. The requirement is not that the kid can support himself; just that the parent isn't supporting the kid (and hasn't been for some time). I worked with a high school student last year who was living with a grandmother. Father was dead; mother was long absent. Grandmother was her legal guardian, and had been for years.. Her EFC was zero.

    Keep in mind, this wasn't some great boon to the kid. She had ZERO resources, and grandma lived in poverty. Even coming up with the money for applications was a challenge.
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