Pay Up, Dad

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Can students legally compel parents to pay their tuition? Apparently they can if there’s a contract. According to an article by Christian Nolan in the Connecticut Law Tribune:

Dana Soderberg… went to court to force her father to live up to a deal to pay her tuition at Southern Connecticut State University.

Dana came from what is perhaps an all-too-typical family situation. Her parents, Howard and Deborah Soderberg, of Stratford divorced in 2004. Upon splitting, they agreed that Howard, a property developer, would be responsible for the education costs for their three children, Dana, Amanda and Erik. Dana’s experience had evidently taught her that her father had a tendency not to follow through with paying for things. So she persuaded him the following year to enter into a written contract obligating him to pay her college tuition until she was 25, along with other school expenses such as textbooks, and her car insurance.

The student’s father apparently paid tuition through 2007. But he refused to pay tuition senior year. After Dana Soderberg graduated from college (she took about a $20,000 loan to pay for it) she sued her father for breach of contract in New Haven Superior Court.

She won. Judge William Hadden Jr. wrote that “The plaintiff has proven that she has performed all of her obligations as set forth …. The defendants have failed to prove the claims set forth in their special defenses and in Howard’s counterclaim.” Her father’s counterclaim said that she failed to apply for loans sincerely and didn’t submit receipts to her father. Total damages (loan, interest, and attorney fees) came to about $47,000.

Dana Soderberg is now working as a teacher. I’m predicting quite a legal career for the woman, if she decides to go that route. Let’s just hope she’s not expecting her father to pay for a wedding some day though. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer