Who Is Responsible For College Expenses After Divorce in Illinois?

Illinois is one of the few states with a law that compels divorced parents to support their children’s education past high school and after they turn 18 years old. A child doesn’t have to be a minor to receive this support. This may be a blessing for single parents living under the poverty line, but it can seem unfair to others who have to bear expensive college expenses.

This type of support is called non-minor support. While parents are not legally required to pay for their child’s college expenses post-divorce, most Illinois judges make the judgment in the best interest of the former.

Non-Minor Support for College Expenses

In Illinois, college expenses can be deemed child support. Some of the educational expenses that both parents have to contribute include:

  • Books.
  • Supplies.
  • Living expenses.
  • Medical insurance.
  • Meal plan.
  • Housing.
  • Tuition and fees.
  • Dental insurance.

If divorced parents are forced to pay for these college expenses, their children have to sign consent forms first. Once they sign, they consent to give them access to their records, academic transcripts, and grade reports. If they fail, the parents can petition the court to terminate their college support obligation or modify it if it doesn’t place the child’s safety at risk. If that is the case, the child can also petition the court to maintain privacy regarding their educational achievements from supporting parents.

The child can also use their parents’ 529 accounts if they were made before the divorce was finalized. Any contribution they make post-split is considered a contribution from the parent that gives it. The law also limits parental responsibility for college expenses only if the child gets a bachelor’s degree.

The court may also place limitations on the financial support each parent gives. This includes terminating the support if the child is not a full-time student or has a decent grade at the college or educational institution. For example, financial support may also stop if their Grade Point Average drops below a certain standard. If a child’s cumulative grade falls below 2.0, parents can terminate support unless the child can prove that their poor results were due to an illness.

As per Section 513, both parents are responsible for paying their children’s college expenses or post-secondary expenses. Like child support obligations, their contributions must be equitable rather than equal. This should start with support for exams and college applications. Both parents are obliged to provide financial aid for five college applications, one entrance exam preparation course, and two college entrance exams.

Parents also can terminate support for college expenses once their child turns 23 years old. The only way they can continue to receive support is if they can prove there is reasonable cause to do so. In that case, the parents may be asked to provide financial aid for educational expenses till the child is 25 years of age.

Supporting parents can also petition to terminate support if their child gets married or after they complete their bachelor’s degree. All college support plans are considered the child’s resources for college expenses. The change was made in the law to ensure there was no question regarding fund allocation and their role in taking care of expenses.

The Child’s Responsibility Regarding College Expenses

In some cases, parents may insist that the child should also be involved in paying for their college expenses through:


Scholarships don’t have to be paid back. Some are awarded per need, but most are given for specific academic performance.

Academic scholarships

Some judges may say that academic scholarships should be part of college expenses before splitting the remaining amount between the parents and their child/student. The logic in this regard is that even though the child earned it because of hard work, it was to be expected since the parents also worked hard to put them through school. This is why these expenses are divided fairly between the three.

Other judges may believe that hard work and its success should be rewarded rather than ignored. However, in this case, the logic is that the parents may be financially burdened if the child hadn’t worked hard to get a scholarship. So the children should continue their exceptional academic performance to reduce that burden. In this case, the child is also partially responsible for ‘paying’ college expenses.

Non-Academic Scholarships

The court may also determine whether the scholarship resulted from the child’s academic contributions, or was handed to them. This can include sports scholarships or those awarded by getting into specific fields. Both parents and the child may share scholarships awarded for belonging to a specific ethnicity.


Grants don’t have to be repaid later. Like scholarships, some are need-based, while others are based on performance. The former can compensate for a single aspect. This includes disabilities or payment for expenses for a particular career path or members who belong to an under-represented group of individuals. The latter can be based on the parents’ financial situation.

Factors the Court Evaluates For Non-Minor Support

As per other domestic issues in Illinois, divorced parents may agree to allocate college expenses out of court. In this case, they have to submit an agreement for approval first. If they cannot resolve disputes regarding this, they can ask a judge to intervene and allocate those expenses.

The judge has complete discretion in determining the amount for allocation that they think is fair and reasonable after evaluating the following:

  • The standard of living the child is accustomed to, what they would have enjoyed if the parents were married.
  • Both parents’ financial resources.
  • The child’s academic performance.
  • The financial resources of the child.

And any other circumstances that the court deems necessary. The info allows the court to make an informed decision regarding a child’s education post-divorce and ensure they have the support they need for a stable future.

The payments for college expenses can be made directly to the educational institute, the child, or a parent. An account from which the funds can be drawn has to be established. If a parent refuses to comply willfully and without justification, they can be held in contempt by the court and face sanctions.

What is ‘Discovery’ in Non-Minor cases

‘Discovery’ refers to any acquired information relevant to non-minor cases, such as college expense allocations. As per the orders that are established for non-minor support, all involved parties have to share their income, employment status, records of other financial resources, documents detailing the total expenses for their child’s college education, and any financial aid the child will receive (such as scholarships and grants).

Besides this, special accounts should be revealed via documents that the parents may have established for college expenses. This can include a 529 Educational Savings Account or gifts, royalties, etc, via the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA).

How Much Parents Can Be Expected To Pay

Since each educational institute has its own costs and fees, parents in Illinois paying for child support and expenses cannot be ordered to pay anything above the cost at the University of Illinois for the academic year. If a child wants to attend an expensive school such as a private college or one in another state, they will have to pay for it, not the parents. The child can use student loans or other own funds.

After you split with your spouse, your children may have a tough life. They have a chance of an extraordinary life if their college expenses are not a concern. As a single parent, you may not be able to afford it, but Schaumburg child support attorneys can ensure your ex bears their share of financial obligations.

Important note – The law on non-minor support is evolving in ways that affect when the court is petitioned to decide on college expenses. For instance, a parent cannot ask for reimbursement for these expenses if they do so before filing the petition for non-minor support. The court may consider the parent’s financial contributions when it allocates future college expenses for the child. If you ask the court to allocate expenses years before your child goes to college, the court may dismiss your case altogether.

Are You Considering A Divorce? Contact the Law Office of Fedor Kozlov to Protect Your Rights?

If you and your children are not getting the support you deserve from your spouse, a divorce may be the best course of action. At the Law Office of Fedor Kozlov, we understand that navigating through a divorce can strain your relationship with your kids. It is one of the most difficult challenges anyone can face, and our dedicated Schaumburg child support attorneys are here to help in any way they can.

In times like these, you need skilled legal representation that is also compassionate and diligent. Your ex’s lawyers will do whatever it takes to ensure you don’t get much child support or spousal maintenance. We will make sure your rights are protected, and you receive what you are owed legally.

Our team has years of experience helping clients overcome unique challenges, resolve conflicts, and set a strong foundation for a solid post-divorce life. Get in touch with us for a consultation at our office by dialing (847) 241-1299. Our team comprises skilled and tough negotiators, so you can rest assured that you and your family get the representation you deserve. We have only your best interests at heart.

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