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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.

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Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton, IL divorce attorney for child college expensesThe price of a college education these days can exceed six figures for a four-year degree. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees in 2017–2018 was $34,740 at private colleges, $9,970 for in-state students at public colleges, and $25,620 for out-of-state students at public universities. Those figures are for one year, and they do not include post-graduate degrees. Considering the expense of a college education, it is essential for parents who are getting a divorce to understand their options when determining who will pay for these costs.

Illinois Divorce Laws

The law states that parents may be required to contribute to the education of the child “as equity may require,” which means a fair division of the expenses. In the majority of divorces, the two parties create a written settlement agreement. This agreement typically, but not always, states how the parents will contribute toward their child’s educational costs. In many cases, the major considerations are:

  • the parents’ incomes

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college, DuPage County family law attorneysIf you are going through divorce proceedings or have a child support agreement in place, you may be wondering about how you and your child's other parent will make decisions about paying for college expenses or post-high school training when your child reaches college age.

Even if your children are young, it is wise to plan ahead for the payment of college tuition and expenses so that both parents can begin saving towards their children's education, and to prevent disagreements about paying for college from adding to the stress of an already emotional and tumultuous time for families of students entering college.

Your DuPage County family law attorney can help you plan for your children's future by explaining the factors the courts will consider when assigning responsibility for paying college or post-high school expenses, and asking the court to consider relevant factors.

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college, new law, Wheaton family law attorneyA college education is virtually a requirement for a successful career in the twenty-first century, and a divorce does not excuse parents from making every effort to ensure their children receive quality higher education. Illinois law has long provided courts with the authority to require both parents to contribute to the post-secondary educational expenses of their children, and amendments to Section 513 of the newly overhauled Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act outline even more clearly how divorced parents may be ordered to do so.

How and When Divorced Parents Pay for College The first thing the new law on college expenses clarifies is how long parents may be required to contribute to college expenses, previously a point of contention in many cases. The IMDMA now requires parents, when subject to such an order, to contribute to educational expenses until their child’s twenty-third birthday unless “good cause” can be shown otherwise. The law does not define exactly what “good cause” means in this context, but also goes on to clarify that there is absolutely no obligation to provide for educational expenses under any circumstances once the child turns 25.

Other new parts of the law also allow for the early termination of the parent’s responsibility to contribute toward college expenses. As one might expect, there is no requirement to keep paying for college expenses once the child has completed a bachelor’s degree, but the law now also terminates the obligation of the parents if the child marries while still in school. In addition, Section 513(g) also requires students to maintain a “C” average for their parents to contribute toward their schooling expenses, though this requirement may be waived in cases of serious illness or other showing of good cause.

How Much Is Reasonable?

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