When seeking a divorce, many parents may ask, will child support continue if a child goes to college? Or will both spouses have to contribute to a child’s post-high school educational expenses? Per Section 513 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, child support can include paying a child’s college expenses. Since January 1, 2016, Section 513 can be used to require parents to contribute to their child’s post-high-school educational expenses. This requires courts to determine who is going to contribute, how much each contributes, and for how long the contribution is necessary. Unless there is a good cause shown, the obligation ends when the child turns 23.
The difference between basic child support and contribution to college expenses, is that there is no guideline or formula to calculate the contribution amount for college. The court considers both parent’s present and future expenses and financial resources to determine the amount each will contribute and still meet their basic living expenses. If a parent cannot afford to contribute, a court will not order them to if it finds same.
Some of the college expenses included are: up to five college applications, two standardized entrance exams, a prep course for same, tuition, fees, housing, meal plans, books, supplies, and medical expenses including health insurance. Additionally, in order to curb arguments between parents about the expenses of one school vs. another school, the 2016 amendment placed a cap on college expenses based on the cost of the University of Illinois. Courts look at the costs of tuition, fees, housing, and meal plans of the University of Illinois as a benchmark to determine the maximum costs a parent may have to contribute.
The child is also required to sign all paperwork to allow a parent to have access to their transcripts, records, and grade reports if they are helping financially toward the education. A provision was also added in 2016 that terminated a child’s ability to go to court and sue their parents for payment of their college education. If you have any questions or concerns about finances regarding your child attending college, contact our office for a consultation.