ThinkstockAn informative article written by Charlie Wells of the Wall Street Journal addresses the issue of remarriage and the effect it has on the financial aid packages of college students. Pennsylvania does not statutorily require a parent to provide financial support for their child’s post-secondary (i.e. college) education. They can voluntarily take on that responsibility, but in my experience, few people are willing to commit to the undefined costs of college in a Marital Settlement Agreement.

For the parent, however, they may be faced with a different analysis, namely, whether remarrying will adversely affect their child’s college financial aid package.

Under the Higher Education Act of 1965, parents have to report their new spouses’ incomes on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Household income will determine the extent to which the student has the ability to pay for college, even if income alone does not fully explain the family’s ability or desire to pay the student’s college expenses. Consequently, a remarried parent will find that their spouse’s income has raised the household income from a financial aid perspective and limited their child’s loan options.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to deal with these issues accept pursue an appeal of a financial aid decision and hope that someone else in the process will understand the situation; unfortunately, according to Mr. Wells, that’s rarely the case.

Due to the annual re-examination of financial aid, the additional side-effect of this problem is that it can result in a parent making a difficult decision between moving on with their life and remarrying, or putting those plans on hold for a number of years until their child (or children) is through college. For families already under stress, this is an unwelcome complication.

(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)


Aaron Weems is an attorney and editor of the Pennsylvania Family Law Blog. Aaron is a partner in Fox Rothschild’s Blue Bell, Pennsylvania office and practices throughout the greater Philadelphia region. Aaron can be reached at 610-397-7989;, and on Twitter@AaronWeemsAtty.