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College Contribution Payments: Requests and Limitations

Posted on in Family Law

DuPage County family lawyers, college contribution paymentsWhile it is common for parents to establish college saving funds for their children, the financial strain of a divorce may distract parents from saving for college. It is also possible that the divorcing couple may find they have different expectations about funding their child’s college. One parent may want to fully fund college, while the other parent only wants to cover certain expenses. These sorts of differences may make it difficult for a divorcing couple to agree on funding their child’s expected costs for college.

If a savings plan was not established before a divorce, it can be difficult to set up an account or agree on a strategy for paying for college. A court can order one, or both parents to make college contribution payments. College contribution payments are a form of child support and may make it easier to plan for a child’s future college expenses.

Petition to Request a College Contribution

If college contribution payments were not ordered as part of the child support order, then the custodial parent may want to consider filing an order to request college contribution payments from the non-custodial parent. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act allows a custodial parent to request that the other parent contribute to college expenses. The court will consider several factors that include:

  • Both parents’ financial resources;
  • The child’s financial resources;
  • The child's academic performance; and
  • The child’s standard of living if the marriage had not ended. 

The college contribution can be used to cover many different expenses related to attending college, not just tuition. The court has ruled that college contributions payments may be used to cover expenses such as:

  • Housing costs;
  • Tuition;
  • Transportation;
  • Textbooks;
  • Registration fees;
  • Application fees
  • Medical insurance;
  • Dental expenses; and  
  • Living expenses during breaks.

Are there Limits to College Contributions?

College contribution payments can begin while a child is still in high school and can continue until the child has obtained an undergraduate degree. College contributions are a form of child support so they may not be applied for retroactively. This means that a parent will not likely be asked to reimburse another parent for expenses paid for in the past.

This non-retroactive aspect of college contributions makes it important that a parent seeking assistance paying for college file a petition as soon as possible or attempt to agree on contributions as part of the divorce settlement. Additionally, Illinois lawmakers created SB 057, which will limit college contributions so that it ends when the child is 23, or 25 under certain circumstances. The bill also uses the University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana as the upper limit on tuition and requires the child maintain a “C” grade average. 

Contact an Attorney

Sometimes divorced parents can agree as to how they will share the responsibility of college expenses for their children and other times, this is not the case. Contact the DuPage County family lawyers at Davi Law Group, LLC for help. We can help you examine your child’s current, or expected, college expenses and determine whether to file a college contribution petition.


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