With all couples, including unmarried couples, it’s common for one partner to help the other with educational expenses or support while he or she is in school. It is important to have a written agreement in this situation.
Agreements providing that one member of an unmarried couple will help support the other while he or she goes to school can take many different forms. Usually, the aim of such an agreement is to make clear that the person going to school will owe the other partner (who pays all or some of the school bills and supports the student while in school) a certain amount of money. That way, if the couple breaks up shortly after the student finishes school, the nonstudent partner won’t have paid school bills and supported the student for nothing.
One way to plan for a fair monetary result is to provide that the person going to school owes the other partner any money expended for tuition and living expenses. This can take the form of a simple promissory note for all money paid out, plus reasonable interest. Assuming the student goes to school for several years, the amount owed will have to be updated periodically.
Soon after Alvin and Siena move in together, they agree that Siena will attend pharmacy school while Alvin works, supports them both, and pays a portion of Siena’s tuition. (Siena will take out a student loan for the rest.) Alvin and Siena agree in writing that if they break up while Siena is in school or within three years after she graduates, she will owe Alvin $10,000 for each year he has supported her, with no interest to be charged until she graduates, at which point interest will be figured at a rate of 10%. They also agree that Siena will have five years to repay Alvin in equal monthly installments.
Of course, more complicated agreements are possible. In the Sample Agreement for People in School included here, Carol plans to become a veterinarian, and Bill is an aspiring dentist. To maximize both career opportunities and their personal relationship, they provide that each shall help the other finish his or her education.