Divorced Parents and College Expenses, Part 2: Eligible Expenses and Your Child’s Responsibilities

Last week on this blog, we discussed the basics of the Illinois law that allows a court to require one or both parents to contribute to their child’s college expenses following a divorce. To summarize, college expenses for a couple’s child are essentially considered to be a financial matter between the parents in divorce, as long as at least one parent is willing to help the child financially. The child cannot ask the court to order payment from his or her parents, but one parent may petition for help from the other.

Eligible College Expenses

The court’s decision must be based on the economic situation of each parent, that of the child, the lifestyle the child could have expected if the marriage had remained intact, and the child’s academic performance. If the court determines that ordering college expense support is appropriate, the parents will be required to share responsibility for:

  • Tuition and fees: Except for good cause shown, tuition costs are limited to those of a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign;
  • Housing expenses: Except for good cause shown, housing costs must not exceed those of normal on-campus student arrangements at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign;
  • Books and supplies: These may include class materials, printing costs, and other expenses necessary for a student to attend college;
  • Medical expenses: Medical care, insurance, and dental costs may be included; and
  • Reasonable living expenses: These include food, utilities, transportation, and other day-to-day costs.

If a parent is ordered to provide support for college expenses, he or she will also be given access to the child’s academic records. In cases where such access could present a danger to the student or the other parent, however, this does not apply.

Requirements of the Student

In order for the court to maintain the authority to order parental support for college expenses, the student must be enrolled a directed educational program. Eligible expenses must be accrued before the student’s 23rd birthday, which for good cause shown may be extended to his or 25th birthday. He or she must also maintain at least a C average. The authority of the court to order support will be terminated if or when the student earns a bachelor’s degree, turns 23 (25 for good cause), or gets married.

If you are a divorced parent with children approaching their college years, it is important to understand your potential responsibilities. Contact an experienced Orland Park family law attorney at Kezy & Associates to discuss your case today. Call 708-518-8200 for a free consultation with a member of our team.