So on Friday I took my daughter for her first college visit. She was excited but a bit nervous as well. I can say I was a bit nervous too, this was also my first college visit. I grew up in a large family with a single mom, we had little to no money so college was not even a thought in my brain. Back when I was in high school I didn’t have the support system my daughter has now. There has never been a question that she would go to college, it’s something we have always talked about. Starting in middle school she has been tested and counseled and bombarded with information at school, and now home, about college. What is she interested in, what careers best suit her personality, what to do to prepare for the college application and on and on and on.
So as I sat there that day watching the presentation and listening to the speakers talk about all of the cool things the school had to offer I felt a bit jealous. I wish that I had had that opportunity. I wish someone had pushed me a little more, given me the opportunity or at least let me know that I had one. We watched a presentation, we spoke with current students, we toured the campus and had a meeting with one of the professors. When we left she was more excited then ever. Now for the bad news, the tuition is $53,000 per year. Ouch!!!
Now I realize there is the possibility of scholarships and of course there are student loans but I can’t help feel a pang of guilt that if our family had stayed together this would not even be an issue. Rather than having to support two separate households we would be able save that money and put it towards tuition rather than forcing her into student loans that she will be saddled with for years to come. I know that I can’t afford to help much and neither can my ex, and it makes me sad. But I also realize that at least she has the opportunity to go to college – even if it means college debt well into the future – unlike me. I wish I could go back and have a college do over – maybe things would be different, maybe not, but there is always that possibility.
Lately it has become an important part of the divorce process to provide for college in the permanent orders. I think this is something that definitely needs to be addressed as it has been overlooked in the past and has been a point of contention later on. The kids get caught in the middle of this and then sometimes feel like they have become a burden. It is so important that the kids never, ever feel this way. I believe that addressing college costs in your permanent orders will alleviate any issues down the road. Even if it means just saying that each parent will provide a minimal amount towards tuition and more if possible – or if that is too much, that each parent will at the very least assist their child as much as possible in applying for grants, scholarships and financial aid.
Take care of your kids and they will take care of you. Watching them grow into happy, responsible adults is the greatest joy ever.
“College is the best time of your life. When else are your parents going to spend several thousand dollars a year just for you to go to a strange town and get drunk every night?”
― David Wood