How Are College Expense Obligations Determined in an Illinois Divorce?

Posted on in Child Support

Wheaton child support lawyer for college expensesIn almost every situation in which a child’s parents are separated, both parents are obligated to contribute financially to the child’s regular needs through child support. This includes expenses related to the child’s K-12 education, but it does not necessarily include expenses related to college or post-secondary education. For this reason, Illinois has special provisions in place that may require both parents to contribute to their children’s higher education even after they have reached the age of 18. As a parent, it is important to be aware of what you might be required to pay.

Calculating College Expenses in Illinois

In most cases, tuition and housing are the largest expenses associated with a college education. According to U.S. News and World Report, the average cost of tuition and fees in the 2019-2020 academic year was $10,116 for in-state students and $22,577 for out-of-state students at public schools, and $36,801 for students at private schools. The cost of room and board varies significantly depending on the college or university, but average costs in recent years come in at around $10,000 annually.

When ordering separated parents to contribute to college expenses, Illinois tries to keep costs manageable by requiring parents to pay, at most, the cost of tuition, fees, and room and board for an in-state student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. For the 2020-2021 school year at the University of Illinois, tuition and fees are estimated to be between $17,000 and $22,000, and room and board is estimated at around $12,000. Actual expenses for parents could be less if their children are attending a school or educational program with lower costs.

The amount that each parent will be required to pay usually depends on multiple different factors, including each parent’s current financial situation and income level. In addition to tuition and housing, Illinois courts also may order parents to cover additional college expenses including:

  • Medical and dental care

  • Reasonable living expenses

  • Admissions expenses, including applications and standardized college entrance exams

  • Books and supplies

The obligation to pay may continue until the child earns a bachelor’s degree, gets married, or reaches the age of 23, or in some cases 25. The child also must maintain a “C” average for payments to continue.

Contact a Wheaton Family Law Attorney

If you are a single parent or are currently pursuing a divorce and you have questions about your obligation to contribute to your child’s college expenses, the attorneys at Andrew Cores Family Law Group can help. We understand the importance of your children’s education as well as your financial stability, and we will work to ensure that the two are not mutually exclusive. Contact a DuPage County divorce lawyer today at 630-871-1002 to schedule a free consultation.


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