Parental financial support doesn’t necessarily end when a child turns 18. Although college may not be an option every child pursues, if a child does decide to go to college, divorced and unmarried parents could be responsible under Illinois law for sharing the expense of their child’s continued education. This is considered “non-minor support,” and the law in this regard is complex and less developed than child support for minor children. Typically, college expenses are addressed in a divorce agreement (or parenting agreement, for non-married parents), but as the expenses and expectations of college change rapidly, such an agreement is often left until the child reaches college age.
Considerations in an Order for College-Related Expenses
Here are some of the factors a court will take into account when deciding how parents should contribute to a child’s educational expenses:
Pre-college expenses – Parents are responsible for covering the cost of applying to up to five colleges and up to two standardized college entrance exams like the ACT or the SAT. Parents may even be required to pay for a college exam preparatory course.
Tuition and fees – Every year, parents can be required to pay the equivalent of one year of Illinois in-state tuition and fees. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is used as a baseline to estimate how much parents could be expected to contribute when a child attends an out-of-state or private school where tuition may be much more expensive.
Educational expenses – The cost of attending college reaches beyond just tuition and fees. Other expenses that will likely be included are housing, meal plans, health and dental insurance, books, and supplies such as laptops or specialized calculators.
Age of the child – A court in Illinois can order parents to pay for a child’s educational expenses until the child reaches the age of 23 (or 25, if there are extenuating circumstances such as delayed entry due to military or religious service).
The responsibility of the child – A child whose parents are obligated by a court to pay for their educational expenses must sign a waiver allowing their school of choice to provide parents with the child’s academic transcripts, student records, and grades. The child must also maintain a cumulative “C” average in their classes.
Contact a Kane County Child Support Lawyer
If you want to know more about paying for your child’s college education expenses, contact a Kane County, Illinois divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group for help. We will work with you to help you understand your options under the law and find a plan that meets the needs of both you and your child. Call 630-584-4800 for a free consultation.