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Serving Iowa Families Statewide

Who Pays for College After a Divorce?

Whose Responsibility Is College?

In Iowa, the court can order parents to pay some of their child's college expenses. The courts refer to this as a postsecondary education subsidy. Many people are surprised by this. If you are going through a divorce and have teenage children, you should expect future college expenses to come up when determining child support terms. If you have very young children, this may not be part of your divorce settlement, but you should still consider discussing it.

Determining "Good Cause" in Court-Ordered Postsecondary Education Subsidies

For the courts to order a postsecondary education subsidy, they must first determine if there is good cause for the subsidy to be awarded to the child.

When determining if there is good cause for a court-ordered postsecondary education subsidy, the courts will consider:

  • The age of the child
  • Whether the child is self-sufficient
  • The child's abilities
  • The child's financial resources
  • The financial condition of the parents

What Is the Child's Responsibility?

As they determine the amount of court-ordered support for college expenses, the courts look at the reasonable cost of in-state tuition and other college-related necessary expenditures. According to Iowa Code 598.21F, the court will also determine what the child is reasonably expected to contribute to their own education. These contributions may include scholarships, grants, financial aid, student loans, and the student's ability to work while going to school.

According to the Iowa Code, the student is also obligated to provide each parent with their grades at the end of each academic session. This must be done within ten days of the student’s receipt of the grades. Additionally, the student is legally required to maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average in the median range, or the court-ordered subsidy will be terminated. The minimum GPA requirement can be adjusted if both parties are in agreement.

What Is the Parent's Responsibility?

Once the courts have determined the projected costs of the student's college education, they will deduct the student's expected contribution and then divide the remaining cost between the two parents. According to Iowa law, the cost ordered to each parent will not exceed 33 1/3 percent of the total cost of the child's undergraduate education. Additionally, the law states that the post secondary subsidy will be paid either to the child or directly to the financial institution the child attends.

Enforcing Court-Ordered Postsecondary Education Subsidy

If you are ordered by the courts to pay a portion of your child's college expenses, this order is legally binding. You must adhere to any court order you are given. If you fail to fulfill your responsibility or intentionally withhold the support, you may face enforcement measures by the courts. Common methods of court order enforcement include wage garnishment, liens, and you can even be held in contempt of court.

If you are struggling to make court-ordered postsecondary educational subsidy payments, speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. Avoid missing payments as this can create serious legal problems for you. Hope Law Firm is well-versed in Iowa laws concerning child support and postsecondary education subsidy orders. Our attorneys are client-focused and compassionate. When you need trusted legal guidance, turn to us.