Will a divorce affect a child’s chances of going to college?

Parents often worry about how the end of their relationship might affect the lives of their children. They worry about how divorce might reduce everyone’s standard of living or how the children may suffer emotionally because of the sudden change in their family circumstances.

There is plenty of research affirming the negative impact that parental divorce can have on the long-term development of children. In some cases, a divorce could mean a major change in the trajectory of a child’s life.

Do parents have to worry that their divorce might interfere with their child’s prior aspirations to attend college?

Yes, divorce can impact college dreams

There are two main mechanisms through which the divorce of a child’s parents might negatively influence their chances of attending college as planned after high school graduation.

The first is through the grade slump commonly reported after a parental divorce. Especially when divorce occurs while students are in high school, they may not have a chance to recover from the psychological shock and the resulting drop in grades that often accompanies parental divorce.

The second issue is paying for college costs. Arizona will not require child support during the college years, which can leave a child in a difficult situation. In some cases, parents agree to share expenses. That may be the best possible outcome, as the income of both parents will still apply toward their financial aid eligibility at the federal level. Of course, now that parents have to support separate households, they may also have less to contribute overall.

Understanding how divorce may impact the college dreams of a young adult may help parents the negative impact their divorce has on the family.

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