Illinois law allows courts to order parents to pay for a child’s college expenses after divorce. As one of the few states with this law, Illinois extends support for children beyond their 18th birthdays. 

Parents with young children who are considering divorce should know about the state provisions for college expenses. 

Eligible education costs

The Illinois provision applies to children older than 18 and allows judges to order parents to pay for the child’s vocational training, professional school, university or college education. In addition to tuition and fees, the court can require parents to pay for reasonable food and transportation expenses, health care expenses, on-campus or off-campus housing, textbooks, and supplies. 

Calculation considerations

Under the state law, the judge must review five factors when determining a fair amount for parents to contribute to these costs for an adult child. These considerations include the parents’ existing retirement savings, the family’s standard of living before the parents divorced, each parent’s income and assets, the child’s financial resources separate from those of the parents and his or her academic performance. 

Illinois currently caps reasonable living expenses by using the average cost of living for students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a guide. The court cannot order parents to support a child who attends school beyond age 23. However, either parent can agree to continue educational support until the child reaches age 25. 

The state allows discontinuation of financial support for education in certain circumstances. Payments will end if the child completes a bachelor’s degree program, marries or cannot maintain at least a C average.