2023 Divorced Parents and College Expenses in Illinois

Divorced Parents and College Expenses in Illinois

May divorced parents in Illinois be required to pay for their children’s college expenses? In general, the answer is yes, the court can require each parent to contribute to the cost of their children’s college education.

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Divorced Parents and College Expenses in Illinois

750 ILCS 5/513

In Illinois, college expenses for children of divorced parents can be awarded pursuant to 750 ILCS 5/513 which provides that the “court may award sums of money out of the property and income of either or both parties or the estate of a deceased parent, as equity may require, for the educational expenses of any child of the parties.”

Are Any Pre-College Expenses Provided For?

Yes, Pre-College expenses are provided for in 750 ILCS 5/513(b). First, when applying to colleges you may want to fill out a “FAFSA” which is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The court may require both divorced parents, and the potential college student, to complete the FAFSA. In addition, the court may also require the divorced parents to provide funds for up to 5 college applications, 2 standardized college entrance exams such as the SAT or the ACT, and the cost of an SAT or ACT prep course.

What Educational Expenses are Included?

In general terms, under 750 ILCS 5/513(d) the educational expenses may include, but are not limited to, the “actual cost of the child’s post-secondary expenses, including tuition and fees”, the “actual costs of the child’s housing expenses, whether on-campus or off-campus”, the “actual costs of the child’s medical expenses”, the “reasonable living expenses of the child during the academic year and periods of recess”, and the cost of books and other supplies.

Is There a Cap?

Yes, except for “good cause shown”, (1) the actual cost of the child’s college expenses, including tuition and fees, may not exceed the amount of in-state tuition and fees paid by a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign for the same academic year, and (2) the actual costs of the child’s housing expenses, whether on-campus or off-campus, may not exceed the cost for the same academic year of a double-occupancy student room, with a standard meal plan, in a residence hall operated by the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign;

Are There Any Exceptions?

Yes. 750 ILCS 5/513(g) provides that the authority of the court to make provision for educational expenses terminates when the child either: (1) fails to maintain a cumulative “C” grade point average, except in the event of illness or other good cause shown; (2) attains the age of 23; (3) receives a baccalaureate degree; or (4) marries.

What does the Court Consider When Making Its Decision?

The court will consider all relevant factors when making its decision, however 750 ILCS 5/513(j) highlights the following: (1) The present and future financial resources of both parties to meet their needs, including, but not limited to, savings for retirement. (2) The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved. (3) The financial resources of the child. (4) The child’s academic performance.

What Next?

It is important to review your Marital Settlement Agreement. If it is necessary to go through the courts it is better to start early. In fact, 750 ILCS 5/513(k) the obligation to provide for college expenses is retroactive only to the date when you filed a petition.

This Divorced Parents and College Expenses in Illinois page contains some general information on college expenses for divorced parents in Illinois, but it is no replacement for an individualized consultation with an attorney.

If you need help, or have questions about the information on the Divorced Parents and College Expenses in Illinois page, please call, or schedule a free, 30 minute consultation via Zoom, to speak with an attorney directly about your specific circumstances.

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The information on this Illinois Prenuptial Agreement page is current as of August 2021.