Illinois is somewhat unique in that family court judges have the option of ordering a divorced parent to pay what’s known as “post-secondary child support.”
Under the law, either or both parents (depending on their means) can be required to pay for their child’s higher education expenses well after their 18th birthday. Parents can generally be required to keep paying until that child turns 23 years of age, although support can (rarely, and only with good cause) be extended until the child’s 25th birthday.
This does not mean, however, that your child has a blank check for any college they might want to attend. Unless the paying parents agree to spend more, children receiving post-secondary support for their education are usually only entitled to receive enough money to cover the equivalent of in-state tuition, fees and housing costs for a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. That means that if your child wants to attend an Ivy League school, you’re only required to foot part of the bill — whatever you’d pay if they picked the University of Illinois.
Keep in mind that you aren’t just obligated to pay for college, however. Post-secondary education expenses can also include vocational training and trade schools, so your child’s choices of a career aren’t restricted.
Post-secondary support also includes money for the child’s living expenses, even if they can live at home while they attend school. In that situation, you may still have to assist with the child’s share of the household food, utilities and transportation costs.
There are many complex ins-and-outs when it comes to child support agreements. It’s always better to think ahead and try to address as many of these issues in your agreement early — before they become a problem.