For Maryland students who want to pursue a college degree, the idea that their parents will automatically pay for it isn’t always on target. For kids whose parents are divorced, the idea that child support will continue throughout their college years by a family law court order is a hopeful rumor that never came to pass.
Although the idea that non-custodial parents should be required to help pay for college was briefly entertained by the Maryland General Assembly in 2011 and 2012, it never gained substantial support from legislators. As it stands now, divorced parents who must pay child support are only obligated until the child graduates from high school or turns 19, whichever comes first. If the child drops out of high school before graduation, child support is terminated. It makes sense. While parents often try to assist their children in financing their college years, Maryland law doesn’t support the idea that parents – married or not — must take on responsibility for their children beyond age 18.
While this can be a difficult position for students hoping to attend college, the idea isn’t completely far-fetched. Some non-custodial parents are required to help pay for their children’s college education in the event of a divorce. In such cases, a couple has incorporated it into a separation agreement or post-nuptial agreement which has been enforced by a Maryland court. Sometimes couples may ask their Family Law Attorney to draw up such an agreement as a way to protect their children from losing out on a college dream. The alternative to requirement by a court order, of course, is that parents who are willing and able voluntarily help their children to pay for a college education without being forced.
For Maryland students looking for college funding assistance, consider the fact that in-state tuition is always less expensive than out-of-state tuition, and most public schools cost less than private institutions. There are also special federal programs available for those in lower income brackets, and student loans from a variety of sources can help to pay for college.