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Should Children Contribute to Their Own College Expenses

Should Children Contribute to Their Own College Expenses?

This is a widely debated and litigated issue. When, if ever, is it appropriate for our Courts to allocate a portion the costs of college to the child? Case law is clear: several of the factors the Court should consider in deciding allocation of college expenses include the child's ability to contribute, the child's ability to earn income during the year, and the availability of financial aid, including loans. Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529, 545 (1982). Notwithstanding, parties often contract around these factors, and enter into settlement agreements whereby they agree to pay for college in whole.

In a recent unpublished decision, the Appellate Division echoed the Newburgh factors. Dunn v. Ruggiero, LEXIS 2605 (App. Div. 2013). The Appellate Division specifically found that "Newburgh recognizes that a child might be required to bear some of the expenses of attending college with loans." Id.

The law remains unchanged: under the applicable case law, a Court may require a child to contribute to their own college expenses.

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