Help for Single Mom Losing Child Support for 18-Year-Old

Question: My daughter is planning on attending college fall 2011 at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. She turned 18 on January 16, 2010 and therefore by North Carolina Laws will receive no Child Support From her father after that date. I, her mother, have not remarried and he is unwilling to help out at all with any further financial issues since she is 18. I have another daughter that is 13 in the home. How can this be represented on her financial aid application to allow help for her to get into college? I will still be providing medical, car insurance etc. My am a public school teacher.

I forwarded your question to my financial aid guru, Ann C. Playe (former associate director of admission and financial aid at Smith College, now a college and financial aid counselor at www.collegekarma.com. ).Here’s what Ann advises:

She should send a letter detailing the change in the level of the child support that will be received next year (she is probably still getting some for the 13 year old). I suspect it won’t make a big difference. Schools often take the stand that they can calculate continuing child support because the non-custodial parent should be WILLING to continue that level of support through college. Often, however, the spouses are not willing and the poor kid or custodial parent has to borrow more. But a state school might be less likely to do that.

So you need to write a letter to the financial aid office at UNC/Charlotte stating the level of child support you will receive next year (either none or whatever you get for your younger daughter). I also suggest that your college-bound daughter might want to ask her dad to help her with some specific expense. Even if he refuses to pay for her college tuition (which he may fear is a bottomless pit), if she were to go to him and present a very short wish list (e.g., this might mean a car, if she’s commuting, her meal plan, or a laptop), perhaps he might make a dent in your burden (and stress level) by agreeing to a one-time deal.

(posted 2/16/2011)