Can a Parent Be Required to Pay for College?

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College degrees are often required for certain jobs across the country. While they are necessary and the college experience can be exciting and fun, attending a two or four-year university can be expensive. Many students have to take out loans or work several jobs to make ends meet while pursuing higher education. Some lucky students may have parents with the financial means to help out. But are parents obligated to contribute? In the state of New York, a court has the authority to order a noncustodial parent to pay for or financially contribute to their child’s college tuition. For more information and to ensure that your parental rights have not been violated, reach out to a skilled Suffolk County child support lawyer today.

Is College Tuition Included in Child Support?

Most noncustodial parents are required to pay some sort of child support to the custodial parent of their child. Child support payments can come in the form of monthly checks written to cover expenses like education, medical needs, clothing, and more. College tuition is not always a factor in a child support agreement, especially if the child was very young when the parents separated or divorced.

However, when a child will be attending college soon, the noncustodial parent may be asked to contribute financially. New York state law does not expect or require parents to pay the entirety of their child’s tuition and room and board, but if it is deemed appropriate they will be asked to contribute a reasonable amount.

In New York, child support is required until a child turns 21. If a parent is required to contribute to educational expenses after high school their obligation will end once their child support obligation ends, on the child’s 21st birthday.

How Does a Court Determine If a Parent Must Pay for College?

Child support is determined by a court examining many factors. Similar information is examined when a court decides whether or not a noncustodial parent will be required to pay for their child’s college. The following are some factors that are taken into consideration when determining if and how much a parent will have to pay.

  1. The noncustodial parent’s financial ability: A court will consider the parent’s ability to pay for tuition, examining their income, assets, debts, and other expenses.
  2. The child’s educational needs: The best interest of the child should always be an important factor. A court will evaluate what the child needs to succeed in their education and the associated costs.
  3. The child’s academic history: The court will take into consideration the child’s academic performance and abilities as well as what they wish to study and the career options they may have after they graduate.
  4. The cost of tuition: To determine the amount that a parent will owe the court will look into how much the tuition of the child’s college is, room and board, textbooks, and more. The child’s financial abilities will also be examined, including how any scholarships they may have affect the amount of money they have to pay.

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