Many divorces are completed without specific payment amounts referenced for college expenses. This scenario often results from the reality that when the divorce is finalized, the child may be too young to correctly project the actual college costs, and therefore these expenses are commonly “reserved” for future consideration of the court. Once the child approaches college age, court can assist in determining the financial obligation of the parents and the child if no agreement can be reached directly between the parents and child. Yes, the child does bear some responsibility for their college expenses with consideration being given to scholarships, loans, and previously created college savings accounts. Regardless of which college the student will attend, the standard costs considered by many courts in Illinois are those costs customarily charged for attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
College preparatory classes, college applications, reasonable living expenses, housing, books, tuition, and medical and dental insurance comprise most of the costs a parent may be obligated to contribute, based on Section 513 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/513). Whatever the breadth of costs, it is important to note that the non-custodial parent’s obligations will only be considered from the date of filing, and that past college expenses will not be considered.
A court will evaluate the respective parents’ income, including retirement savings and their standard of living, as well as the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not been dissolved. If the child-student requires additional time to complete college, efforts must be made to allow both parents access to college transcripts, grade information, and school records. Court ordered college contributions end if the child does not maintain a “C” average, turns 23, receives a bachelor’s degree, or becomes married.
If your child is heading to college, or already there, and college related expense issues have surfaced, we invite you to contact our office.