Paying support for child’s college education

Generally, child support payments stop when a child reaches the age of 18 and is considered an adult. However, Illinois allows a divorced parent to file for college expenses, asking their ex-spouse to help support their child through college. This is especially relevant if the child likely would have had access to college education if their parents had not divorced. The amount a child can receive will depend on a number of factors.

What expenses are considered?

College is a big investment, but the amount of support your child will require is highly dependent on your situation and what schools are options. Court will take the child’s college preferences into consideration when determining support, but their choices must be reasonable in relation to your and your ex-spouse’s financial abilities.

For example, if your child wants to study out-of-state at an Ivy League school when an in-state alternative offers a similar and very respectable program for a much more affordable cost, there would have to be ample evidence that the out-of-state option is different and has benefits that the in-state school does not.

Expenses included in a parent’s support payments may cover not only tuition but also textbooks, transportation, insurance/health expenses, room and board and other necessary fees.

How is college support decided?

How much each parent must contribute is based on income, assets and ex-spouse’s income if they remarried. The child’s ability to contribute financially is a factor as well. If a parent was paying child support when the child was a minor, they are assumed to be able to continue paying support for college unless their situation has significantly changed. The previously non-paying spouse may be required to contribute a higher amount or contribute in the first place if they are now remarried and supported by their new spouse or if they have significant assets that could help pay for college.

Court will take any of the child’s scholarships, financial aid and jobs, or potential to get a job, into account. Court may find that a child is obligated to assist his or her parents with college payments, depending on the scope of the expenses and any help from scholarships or aid. A child with no scholarships or financial aid to decrease tuition cost has a higher likelihood of needing to help with payments.

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