Second marriage and college age children


Hi everyone i need some feedback. I am a widower with three children ages 21,18 and 12. I have been blessed to meet a wonderful catholic woman, we love each other deeply and our now engaged to marry in about a year or less. My sister recently criticized me for wanting to marry while my children are obtaining financial aid for college(she lives with her boyfriend for that reason!) My income is middle and so is my fiance, My 18 year old is in her first year of college with all tuition paid by financial aid,she is a great student and desires to be a teacher,she is applying for scholerships and is on track for sucess i am sure. Would it be wrong for me to marry and jeoperdise her financial aid status, In Christ,Joe;)


I do not know what the “right” answer is, but it seems to me that this should not impede your current marriage. Does your fiance have an interest in maybe helping to contribute a little to your children’s current educational needs? Also I would consult someone on whether your marriage will have a contribution on what FAFSA she recieves because I thought it was based on what parents are earning that one is dependent of them. It sounds as if that will not change unless your daughter becomes a dependent for your future wife. Someone correct me if I am wrong.
I pray your daughter can find better living arrangements.


No, it is not “wrong”.

Your sister has a distorted view of marriage and family if she’s basing it all on the balance sheet.

I do not know what the ramifications are regarding financial aid, so I suggest you make an appointmen with the financial aid department at your daughter’s school and discuss it in detail.

If your daughter no longer qualifies for financial aid, she can get student loans, a job, go part-time, apply for scholarships, etc.


Joe -

I’m sorry, but if you would allow your daughter’s financial aid status to be a factor in your marriage decision, then I have to question whether you’re really ready to remarry. I understand your position of doing what’s best for your children as you are the ONLY one that’s really looking out for their best interests. I lost my husband 10 years ago and have 2 children as well. So, I definitely understand the need to protect and provide for them. A second marriage is difficult enough when there are children in the package. Please work with your fiancee to find a solution to helping your daughter, if the marriage does indeed impact her status. But, don’t let it influence your decision to marry.

God bless and good luck.


The thing about entering into another marriage, especially when you already have kids, is that there is never any way to make it all neat and perfect. Practically every one is going to make sacrifices along the way. I think in the end though, if you are marrying a woman who loves you and loves your children and who will be there to give you the emotional support you need, you will find that your getting remarried will be overall a good thing for your kids. Don’t let your sister derail something really positive. Her priorities are clearly out of whack if she is living with her boyfriend instead of marrying him just to make her child’s college aid application look better. Looking at it from the perspective of eternity, doesn’t that seem pretty foolish?


Does your daughter go to Catholic U or another religious oriented school? If so, the decision to remarry may not impact on financial aid, if a deftly written appeal letter accompanies an unappealing financial aid offer.


No adult is owed a college education. Period. Anybody over the age of 18 is a legal adult.

It is nice if parents choose to help their adult children with college expenses- but no adult is owed that.

I know, for example, a wonderful couple who is paying the interest on their children’s student loans during the college years. It is how they choose to help their son and daughter. They know they don’t have to do this. I know of another couple who, once the adult child secured all the financial aid he could, gave him a living allowance, dependent upon his GPA. I know of yet another couple who gave their children a set amount of money, paid directly to the school of their choice, explaining that when the money was gone, it was gone. I know of still another couple who made sure their children were NOT listed as their dependents after they graduated high school, so that the children were independent, and completed FAFSAs as independent adults. This enabled the adult children to get a better rate on financial aid, using only their own income. Still, another parent I know- a widow BTW- insisted her children stay at home for two years and attend community college. She said she was not paying for expensive mistakes made at a 4-year, live-in university. Once the adult children had a AA or AS in hand, with transferable credits to a 4-year school, she went the independent adult route.

My point: There are all sorts of ways and means to get financial aid, if an adult engages hir or her brain.

And are you then supposed to wait on the 12 year old to grow up, and put him or her through college as well?

No. If this lady is worthy of your love, do not let her get away! Go get married! Your sister, for whatever reason, somehow does not want you to get married. You, too, are an adult, Joe. Set up your blended family. Figure out a plan with your fiancee for ALL the adult kids and colleges involved, and stick with it, exactly the same for all of them.

You have my prayers, something I do not say lightly.

PS: Teachers are scarce right now. There a lot of programs for scholarships, grants, aid, and work programs BEYOND the FAFSA. Have your daughter do some research.


My kids lost their financial aid when I got married… sorry but it is a fact of life. It is unfortunate but as others have said… nobody is guaranteed a college education. My oldest took a year off and moved out to establish his own residence so that he can qualify on his own.


Unfortunately, whoever is out in the burds of Chicago (I lived there for 19 years), is relaying very dangerous information to college-bound parents! I’ve been an admissions/financial aid expert for 28 years, and students only become *independent *if they’re 24, married, have a dependent, in the military or in graduate school. If it were as easy as he relates, every parent would emancipate them and qualify for more financial aid than is realistic!


Thats what I’m dealing with. I’m 23 and was able to file as independant since I’ve been out of my parents house since I was 18. Since I’m single and with no dependants I wasn’t eligable for the pell grants because I make to much. She would be able to take out student loans. Thats how I’m going to pay for school. I look at it as yes I will owe money and it probably will be alot…But I’ll be doing something that I will love doing. I’m also going to school to be a teacher. She should look around at schlorships…There are some that are only for students going to school for a teaching degree.


this would best be handled by competent professional legal, financial and tax advice, not by your relatives putting their or in, or probably not here either. the idea that a couple should even consider living in sin because of financial concerns is appalling, and for anyone, especially a family member to suggest it, is an insult, or at least I would take it as such.


:thumbsup: I think you should get married. The extra income (even though it is your family’s money, could go to college education, and hopefully, you will still have some financial Aid.) YAY for marriage :thumbsup:


I know a woman who married at 19 to a man who turned out to be a heavy drinker. She had two young children before things got so bad she asked her parents for some help. Their attitude was she was over 18 and thus on her own. Things did not turn out so great for this woman or her kids. That story has always influenced my attitude toward my children. I see my children as the greatest gifts from God who I will always be there for, no matter what.
If it were my daughter who was working hard toward a degree and not simply wasting time failing classes and looking for handouts, I would do everything in my power to help them.


With all due respect to your sister - Its not her place to say. Does she expect you to wait until the 12 year old is finished with school too?

The marriage decision should not be based on a financial issue but on one that is based on your gifts to each other of love and what is best for all of the children and their well being.

I agree talk it over with competent financial aid professionals who can answer all your questions. But only so that you know what options are available to you and your children.

God Bless you and your family.


Do I think it would be wrong for you to marry? No. Do I think it could be noble to avoid doing so for the sake of your children? Possibly. The point is, it is your decision, not anyone elses. (Well, except for your fiancee.) But you may NOT do as your sister has done and live in sin.

Others have advised you to speak to someone who specializes in finances, particularly as it pertains to college financial aid. I agree.

Some things to think about… Does your fiancee have any children? How much in the way of income/assets will she add to your overall income? Is it possible (I wouldn’t know) that having some kind of prenupual agreement will protect the financial status of your children and any children she might have? (I don’t think pre-nups are good for young, first-time marrieds, but in cases like yours I think they can contribute to overall family harmony.)


My advice stands. And I am female.

As it happens, first and foremost, NOBODY is owed a college education. Period.

The advice I offered is just that. Advice. It is not dangerous. I think of it as common sense.

An 18 year old does not require emancipation. People who are 18 are legal adults.

Nobody is forced to finance their college education through FAFSA, federal and state grants and loans. There is a variety of sources and resources, if people will seek them out. I know of two schools that refuse to even consider FAFSA and federal anything.

**No parent is forced to finance their adult child’s education past the age of 18. **The only exception to this might be when there has been a divorce in the family, and the parents are obligated under a divroce decree order by a judge.

No parent is obligated to sign a FAFSA for an adult child, that is, one of their offspring over the age of 18. No parent is required to provide a school or an adult child with copies of a 1040, W-2s, what is in their bank acocunts, or the value of their residence. I know. I refused to sign them. My husband, a philosophy professor, refused to sign them. We refused to provide any information whatsoever about us in regards to a FAFSA. When this happens, if a school wants a student badly enough, they do come up with alternatives.

The OP, Joe, is not required to sign FAFSA or provide any of the information in question. If he does so, his children should know he does it out of love, and not because he “owes” them or is obligated to do so.

The OP, Joe, also has been told he should not marry his fiancee because it will effect his children’s college finances. That’s a bogus reason not to get married. There are many other alternatives to obtain a college education, other than FAFSA, federal grants, federal loans, and using the parents’ income to qualify.


The minute the kid finishes his birthday cake at 18 he/she should be thrown out of the house, after all they’re legal adults now and you don’t owe them anything. Yeah, that’s a great attitude. :rolleyes:


Oh yeah, the great option of private loans. Of course if you don’t have a parent with very good credit to co-sign them you can’t have them. Private need based scholarships use the same standards as public money, and there is a very small base of merit based scholarships you may qualify for, but probably won’t get.

Or you can work 2-3 part time jobs so that you barely have enough time to go to class until you finally get worn out from the stress and quit.

All those great options out there, it’s a wonder that anyone could possibly think that placing your own interest at the price of your children’s futures might be wrong in any way.


I did not realize this prior to marrying. I was a single parent of 3 for 12 years before remarrying. My daughter would have had most of her college paid for, she is unable to receive financial aid because of the bump in the tax bracket. This should not stop you from getting married, just something to think about and evaluate the best options and timing.


Did I say that? No. I said, “An 18 year old does not require emancipation.” I said, “Nobody owes a legal adult a college education.” I said, “There are alternatives to FAFSA and federal and state loans.”

And I listed examples of parents who did not go the FAFSA route, and found alternatives to the situation.

It can be wrong for adult children to assume their parents can afford to give them a free ride through college, or that Mom and Dad owe them anything.

I have mentioned the people I thought took sensible approaches to their adult children’s educations. I think these people took sensible approaches to a situation that has grown out of proportion in our country. Did you even read those first?

I will now mention people who have been guilted, lied to, and in general, made to feel that they owed their adult children entire college educations. **NOTE: It is an extreme, but not unheard, scenario. **

Some (not all) guidance counselors, admissions officers, financial aid officers and the adult children themselves can be very manipulative when it comes to college finances. They will drain Mom and Dad’s 401(k) and Roth IRAs needed for retirement, second-mortgage the family house, and co-sign away Mom and Dad’s life, all to get Junior and Janie into college.

Junior and Janie, as “adults” have no responsibility to give Mom and Dad a copy of their grades- in fact, the school can’t send it to the parents without the “adults’” permission. Junior and Janie goof off, sleep in, party all weekend, spend money on weekend trips, while Mom and Dad work their bottomsides to keep them in school. Junior skates by with a 2.0 GPA, and barely finishes college in 6 years. Janie gets pregnant and ends up in need of more help- although she now qualifies for her own FAFSA, as she is about to have a dependent. If she’s smart, she’ll stay in school. But that’s doubtful.

Mom and Dad are left hustling to get money for their retirement. They can’t depend on Junior, who claims he can’t afford to live out there on his own. Yet, Junior has a very late-model car, goes out every night, and barely helps around the house. He is often too broke to pay rent. Janie has returned, with her child, and barely makes it off the couch to change the TV channel or the child. It strains the family relationship to the point where Mom and Dad are either doormats, or end up throwing out the whole lot of them.

Your last scenario and mine are extremes. There is a lot in the middle that can be done without using FAFSA, without public money. And no, not every private funding apparatus uses the same criteria as public money.

My opinion: The public community colleges in this country are some of our best assets. They are inexpensive when compared to 4-year schools of any variety. Most offer competitive, transferable classes (they have to do so to stay in business). They also offer vocational and technical training for jobs. Most use instructors from other, big name schools in the area looking to pick up extra bucks as adjuncts. Adult children can live at home or share apartments with roommates, making living conditions cheaper than expensive dorms (and dorms after often more expensive than living locally). Once the adult child has an associates’ degree, 4-year schools are eager to pick them up, esp. if they have maintained good GPAs. At least 8 in our area give a form of scholarship to AA/ AS holders, because they have already proven they can do the work required.

HOWEVER- The main focus of this thread is to help Joe, the OP, who wants to marry, but has a sister who thinks he should not, to put his kids through college at a cheaper rate. His sister is living in sin, allegedly to put her children through college. There are alternatives to Joe and his fiancee foregoing marriage, or worse, living in sin. One of those is the realization that at 18, no matter how much a parent loves a child, that child is now an adult, legally. It certainly does not mean the newly-minted adult’s suitcases are placed on the doorstep right after the birthday cake. It does call for serious consideration of other alternatives, such as the ones I mentioned in my first post.

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