For many people in Illinois, the thought of making plans on how to pay for their young child’s college education while they are in the throes of a divorce may not be top of mind, especially if the child is 10 or more years away from going to college. Parents of high schoolers might find this more logical given that college is just around the corner and may likely be a significant financial event for the family. Regardless of age, it is wise to plan ahead and make agreements between the parents a part of the divorce decree. 

As explained by Student Loan Hero, when a student fills out the application for financial aid, the parent who is considered to be the custodial parent is the one for whom financial information must be reported. The custodial parent is the one with whom the student spends the most time, even if just one overnight more than the other parent in a given year. This makes the determination of parenting time quite important, along with which parent will claim the child as a dependent on their tax return. 

CNBC recommends that divorcing spouses determine their parameters for what they will pay for when it is time for their kids to go to college. It is important to include all costs, not just tuition. This includes room and board, transportation, discretionary money, books, fees and even study abroad costs if that is to be allowed. 

Some families may want to require that all financial aid options be exhausted before a parent pays for anything. Other families put a limit on the number of years they will pay for a student to attend college.