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Parents should not be forced to pay tuition

Sept. 19, 2003

Staff editorial

In more than a dozen states, divorced parents are treated differently than married parents on issues concerning college tuition payments.

While married couples have the authority to determine how much money, if any, they will contribute toward their children's education, divorced parents often are ordered to pay all or part of their children's college expenses.

The New Hampshire House of Representatives recently voted to enact a law prohibiting courts from forcing divorced parents to pay tuition for a child who is older than 18. Senate approval still is pending.

Research has shown that children with divorced parents are less likely to go to college and are less likely to go to prestigious universities than children whose parents still are married. The merits of these findings are debatable, but a parent's financial obligations after a child turns 18 are not.

No parent is obligated to support a child in any way after the child has turned 18, and this includes paying for college expenses.

In a perfect world all students wishing to further their educations would be able to do so without the burden of figuring out a how to pay for it.

In reality, however, tuition costs are skyrocketing, and fewer middle-class parents, married or divorced, can afford to send their children to school. No court should be able to force parents to pay money that for whatever reason they don't want to give.

A college education is a privilege, not a right, and anyone wishing to go to college must be prepared for the financial responsibilities involved.

Upon turning 18 children become adults and should be treated as such. Adults don't depend on their parents alone for financial support.

The Lariat believes that while parents should want the best for their children, including education, they are not necessarily required to provide for it.