Keep tuition battle out of court

A student suing her parents raises question on college expenses and who should pay for them.

The legal battle between Temple senior Caitlyn Ricci and her parents, regarding who is responsible for paying her college tuition, has received national attention.

Last month, media outlets reported that a New Jersey Superior Court judge ordered Ricci’s divorced parents, Michael Ricci and Maura McGarvey, to pay for their daughter’s $16,000 out-of-state tuition to Temple in addition to the $906 in tuition from her time at Rowan College at Gloucester County.

McGarvey has paid her half of the $906, but Michael Ricci hasn’t. Neither is yet responsible for paying any part of the $16,000, pending the results of an appeal.

Caitlyn Ricci is being supported by her grandparents, whose home she moved into in February 2013. On McGarvey’s blog, she said her and her ex-husband set up conditions on which they would help pay for her college: including getting a full-time job, enrolling in summer classes and completing household chores.

Caitlyn Ricci’s lawyer, Andrew Rochester, said his client performed these tasks but that her parents denied paying her tuition anyway.

So she sued.

New Jersey law requires divorced parents to pay for their children’s tuition, protecting some who are given unfair disadvantages as a result of parents separating.

Paying for college is undoubtedly difficult, especially in situations without parental support. But there are plenty who get by without it – students who work tirelessly to pay their way through school, some of whom will be facing  loans for the next several decades.

Republican New Jersey Assemblyman Christopher Brown is working on new legislation to prevent future cases like the one brought forth by Caitlyn Ricci. It’s difficult, and perhaps impossible, to determine why this relationship between mother, father and daughter soured in such a drastic way. But both Caitlyn Ricci and her parents should resolve their differences quickly and find an amicable solution, because this is a case that should have no place in the American judicial system.

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