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Articles / Applying to College / Help for Single Mom Losing Child Support for 18-Year-Old

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

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Feb. 16, 2011

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)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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