Children whose parents are divorced are entitled to contribution to college expenses from both of their parents. The law provides that the Court may award a sum of money as contribution from the property and income of either or both parents for the college education, professional or other training after high school. 750 ILCS 5/513(a)(2). After considering the resources or ability to pay of the parents and the child, college expenses are allocated.
College expenses include, but are not limited to, room, board, dues, tuition, transportation, books, fees, registration and application costs, medical expenses including medical insurance, dental expenses, and living expenses during the school year and periods of recess. The general rule of thumb is that the maximum a parent would be responsible for is a portion of the cost to attend a state school, namely: University of Illinois.
A parent’s portion can be made payable to the child, the other parent or directly to the school. In some cases, a special account or trust can be established to fund the cost of higher education. The Court seeks to have the child achieve gradual independence and the responsibility for their own finances and may require the child to administer the funds received.
The child’s ability to contribute to his or her own college expenses can include income from their part-time employment, scholarships, grants, student loans or gifts from others, ie: grandparents.
The parent’s ability to contribute to college expenses can include income from employment as well as any child support received or paid for younger children. If a parent is remarried, contribution from their spouse to other general household expenses can be considered when determining available net income.
This right belongs to the child, but can be enforced by either parent. If the child is considering college choices at the time of the divorce, the allocation of said expenses can be included in the original Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage. Otherwise, the issue of allocation can be reserved. A parent’s obligation to contribute to college expenses is modifiable based upon a change of circumstances. However, if the child is otherwise emancipated, Court ordered contribution can be terminated.
Generally, contribution to college is limited to a baccalaureate degree. The child must have the aptitude for college and maintain passing grades. The child MUST sign the necessary consents to allow both parents access to their academic transcripts, academic records and grade reports.
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