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Does Child Support Cover College Expenses? 

Does Child Support Cover College Expenses? 

When a couple has children together and decides to divorce or to separate, one of the parties may be required to pay child support to the other. The amount of these payments will depend on a few different factors, including the number of children that must be supported, the parties’ incomes, and how parenting time is shared between the parties. In most cases, child support payments cover the necessary costs of living, such as shelter, food, and clothing. It is also possible, however, for child support payments to be used to pay for a child’s college expenses. For help determining whether your own child support order requires you to cover the cost of tuition, please contact our dedicated child support legal team today. 

Contribution to a Child’s College Expenses

In 2016, Illinois passed a law that allows courts to order a child’s parents to pay for that child’s education expenses up until the child’s 25th birthday. These orders contain information about which parents will contribute, how much each party will contribute, and how long the payments must be made. Generally, these obligations end at the age of 23 years old, but parents can request that the payments continue for two years beyond that date. 

It is important to note that the calculations regarding the amount that parents can be required to contribute to their child’s college expenses are different than those used when determining standard child support payments, as each parent’s contribution is not determined based on specific guidelines or formulas related only to income. Instead, courts will consider the present and future financial resources of both of the child’s parents to determine if and how much each will be required to contribute.  

Post-Secondary Education Expenses

Under state law, parents can be ordered to pay for a wide range of expenses related to post-secondary education, including the cost of:

  • Five college applications;
  • Two standardized college entrance exams; 
  • A standardized college entrance exam preparation course;
  • Tuition;
  • Fees;
  • Housing;
  • Meal plans;
  • Books;
  • Medical expenses; 
  • School supplies; and
  • Reasonable living expenses, such as utilities and transportation.  

Payment for these expenses extends not only to time spent in college, vocational training, and professional school after graduation from high school, but also to any period of time when a child is in high school even if he or she has already turned 19 years old. Finally, these payments can be ordered payable to the child in question, either parent, or to the educational institution directly or through a special account.

Termination of Payments

Parents can be ordered to pay for their child’s college expenses following divorce until:

  • The child fails to maintain a cumulative “C” average, unless the child is ill or can otherwise show good cause for failing to maintain a passing grade;
  • Turns 23 years old;
  • Receives a bachelor’s degree; or
  • Gets married.

Becoming pregnant, going to jail, or enlisting in the armed forces, on the other hand, will not justify the termination of these payments.

Contact Our Illinois Legal Team Today

If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, but you are concerned about your child’s ability to pay for college in the future, please call the dedicated child support attorneys at the SAM LAW OFFICE LLC today to learn more about providing for your family after divorce. 

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