15850 W. Bluemound Rd. Suite 304 • Brookfield, WI 53005

15850 W. Bluemound Rd. Suite 304 • Brookfield, WI 53005 • 262-788-5335

Who Pays for College?

When parents are going through a divorce, they are likely to have several immediate concerns such as where their children will be living, who will be paying for child support, and how visitation and decision-making will work.

Another important issue that is likely to come up is how the children’s college expenses will be covered.

who pays for college: a small graduation cap is being placed on top of a book and beside it is a jar with dollar bills

Wisconsin law requires that both parents support their children. When one parent is ordered to pay child support, this obligation will end when the child turns 18 or 19 if the child is still in high school or working on their GED.

With the increasing costs of higher education, parents are doing more to help prepare for these expenses. Although formal education can be considered a justifiable expenditure, Wisconsin law does not require that either parent be obligated to pay for their children’s college.

Although the law does not require parents to contribute to their children’s college funds, many want to do so. During divorce, parents are free to enter into agreements concerning college expenses.

When considering adding this kind of term parents should consider issues such as the anticipated costs of tuition, room, and board as well as the differences between private and public university expenses.  Further, deciding in advance who will be responsible for paying for campus visits entrance exams, and application fees can help parents avoid disagreements down the road.

It is also important to spell out clearly what the funds can be used for and any conditions that must be met to receive them. There is also the matter of paying for extracurricular fees or for special programs such as study abroad. 

When developing this kind of obligation, it is important to be clear so that everyone understands what is required and how and when payments need to be made. Additionally, you should consider how the obligation will be handled if the parent’s financial circumstances change in the future.