Illinois is one of the few states that requires divorced parents to pay for college. The law, passed in 2016, covers vocational school, professional school, college or university expenses for children ages 18 and older. The court can order parents to pay for reasonable living and housing expenses, medical and dental expenses, tuition, fees, and textbooks.
Couples considering divorce should plan to make a fair arrangement to cover college costs for their children that meets Illinois guidelines.
Factors guiding college contributions
The judge will review the retirement savings of both parents, the family’s living standard before the divorce, each parent’s assets and income, any savings or other independent resources in the child’s name, and the academic performance of the child thus far. Based on these factors, the court will determine whether parents must fund college or secondary education.
Amount of college support
The state uses the current average tuition and living costs for the University of Illinois to calculate reasonable college support. Generally, this type of court order will not continue after the child reaches age 23, though parents can voluntarily provide court-ordered financial support until age 25.
Illinois allows parents to end court-ordered college support if their child:
- Successfully earns a bachelor’s degree.
- Earns below a C average without illness or another reasonable cause
However, parents cannot end support solely because their child has become pregnant, joined the military or received a prison sentence.
Discussing expectations for college support early in the divorce process can help you and your estranged spouse agree on this issue without court involvement.