Can you get child support to cover college expenses?
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Can you get child support to cover college expenses?

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2024 | divorce

When parents in Pennsylvania divorce, they may worry about college expenses. This can happen no matter how old the child is due to the increasing costs of college.

If one parent is a high earner, there may be the possibility of obtaining child support to help with these expenses.

Child support exceptions for college expenses

Pennsylvania’s child support laws require both parents to contribute to the financial support of their children until they reach the age of majority, typically 18 years old. The law does not specifically require parents to pay for college expenses.

There are exceptions, though. Courts may order parents to contribute to college costs if there is a prior agreement between the parents or if such an arrangement is necessary based on the child’s needs and the parents’ financial circumstances.

Factors considered by the court

The average cost of Pennsylvania in-state tuition and fees is $14,532 per year. When determining whether to order child support for college expenses, Pennsylvania courts consider various factors. These factors may include the financial resources of both parents, the child’s academic performance, the cost of the college or university, the child’s ability to obtain financial aid and any agreements or arrangements made between the parents.

Age of child

The likelihood of getting child support for college expenses may increase as the child gets older. This is because older children are closer to reaching the age of majority and college expenses are more immediate. Older children may also have a clearer academic trajectory, making it easier for parents to anticipate the financial burden of college.

Regardless of the child’s age, parents should present evidence of the child’s educational goals and the costs associated with higher education when seeking support for college expenses.

Agreement outside of court

Parents have the option to negotiate agreements regarding child support and college expenses without involving the court system. This process, known as reaching a settlement out of court, can be less adversarial and more flexible than going through litigation.

If you and your ex are willing to work together, you may be able to agree on college expenses. This could involve discussing each parent’s financial contribution to tuition, room and board, books and other related costs. A judge needs to approve such agreements for them to be enforceable. Working with a mediator can help facilitate productive discussions.

Regardless of the child’s age, it can take a strategic approach to include college expenses in child support.


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