Child Support and College Expenses
Great, your child graduated from high school this spring and is ready to go to college. What can be an exciting time for parents and children can also be frustrating if you are divorced. How are college expenses allocated between the parents? If your original divorce decree does not address college, what should you do?
Child support in Indiana continues until your child turns 21 years old. However, if there is an educational support order in place before age 21 your obligation to pay for college may continue past your child’s twenty-first birthday. It is important to modify your child support obligation so that college expenses are addressed, and regular child support is reduced if the child lives away from home during the school year.
You should secure an educational support order preferably during your child’s senior year in high school. At that time you should know what college your son or daughter plans on attending, what the anticipated costs will be, and if your child has qualified for any scholarships or grants. Indiana has a fairly straight forward educational support worksheet that the courts use to calculate the parents’ share and the child’s contribution toward higher education expenses. This worksheet will also recalculate the standard child support obligation to account for a child living away from home.
Also during a support modification you may request the court place limitations on your contribution, such as only paying for in-state tuition (not private colleges), only paying for eight semesters, or requiring you child maintain a minimum grade point average. While these limitations are not guaranteed, it should present an opportunity for you, your former spouse, and your son or daughter to discuss expectations and obligations for the exciting new time ahead in your child’s life.