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Termination of Support College Support

Termination of Support-College Support Beyond the Age of Majority

GraduatesThe "age of majority" is the legal age established under state law at which an individual is no longer a minor and, as a young adult, has the right and responsibility to make certain legal choices that adults make. Thus, when people use the term age of majority, they are generally referring to when a young person reaches the age where one is considered to be an adult. The majority of states use 18 as the age of majority (in cases where the youth is still in high school the age of majority may extend beyond 18).  In some states, child support stops when a child is 18 or graduates from high school, in others, it stops at 21 (For more information, visit Termination of Support- Age of Majority). The majority of states use 18 as the age of majority (in cases where the youth is still in high school the age of majority may extend beyond 18). States may order support  if the child is disabled (For more information, visit Termination of Support- Exception for Adult Children with Disabilities).

Some state laws give courts the power to award college support beyond the age of majority, also called post-secondary or post-minority support. College support may be in addition to child support, a part of child support, or a separate payment after regular child support ends. It can be used to pay for an education at a college, university, vocational school, or other type of post-secondary educational institution.  Other states have no statutes holding parents responsible for college support; however, parents may include provisions for a college education in the child support agreement. The court may require documentation of both parents’ income and resources, as well as any income or resources the child may have. The court may also review the child’s aptitude, interests, wishes, goals and academic records. The educational level of the parents and any siblings or half-siblings the child has may be taken into account. If a regular child support order is still valid while the child is attending college, the paying parent may petition the court to modify child support based on the additional college expenses. Unless the original child support order is modified and a college support order exists, the paying parent is generally responsible for the regular child support payments and college child support.

State Duty to Provide College Support Additional Information
Alabama Alabama law allows post-minority support to be paid for college expenses. The Title IV-D Agency does not assist in collecting post-minority support. Courts may require parents to provide post-minority support for child's college education. Ex Parte Bayliss, 550 So. 2d 1038 (1989).
Alaska N/A Courts may not require either parent to pay for post-majority college support. H.P.A. v. S.C.A., 704 P.2d 205 (Alaska 1985)
Arizona The court may not order support past age of majority for college. No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement; courts will enforce contracts to provide such support. Solomon v. Findley, 167 Ariz. 409, 808 P.2d 294 (1991).
Arkansas If the court order specifically extends the support for a child beyond age 18. No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement. Once child reaches majority, the legal duty of the parents to provide support ends. Towery v. Towery, 285 Ark. 113, 685 S.W.2d 155 (1985).
California N/A No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
Colorado N/A Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-115(1.5)(b) for orders entered prior to July 1, 1997, if the court finds that it is appropriate for the parents to contribute to the costs of a program of postsecondary education, then the court shall terminate child support and enter an order requiring both parents to contribute to the education expenses of the child. The court may not issue orders for both child support and postsecondary education to be paid at the same time. See In re marriage of Robb, 934 P.2d 927 (Col. Ct. App. 1997). After July 1, 1997, Colo. Rev. Stat. §14-10-115(1.6) provides the court may not so order, unless certain conditions exist.
Connecticut N/A The court may enter an order with respect to the education of a child through the age of 23 for the purpose of obtaining a bachelor's degree or vocational instruction. Conn. Gen. Stat. §46b-56c.
Delaware N/A No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
District of Columbia N/A No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support.
Florida If support has otherwise been ordered to continue. No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement. Courts will compel postsecondary support upon a finding of actual "dependency," but attendance at college does not necessarily render a child dependent. Slaton v. Slaton, 428 So.2d 347 (Fla. DCA 1983).
Georgia If specified in an order.  
Guam By agreement of the parents to extend the obligation beyond age 18.
Hawaii If the child is attending college on a full time basis. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 580-47 allows courts to order support of adult children for college.
Idaho N/A No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an independent agreement.See Noble v. Fisher, 126 Idaho 885, 894 P.2d 118 (1995) (where father agreed to pay half of college expenses in separation agreement and agreement was merged into decree, agreement was unenforceable as contract).
Illinois N/A 750 Ill. Law. Con. Stat. § 5/513 provides that the court may make provisions for the education expenses of the children of the marriage, whether of minor or majority age.
Indiana If ordered before July 1, 2012, educational needs support is possible until age 21. If ordered after June 30, 2012, educational needs support is possible until age 19. Ind. Code § 31-16-6-6(c). Ind. Code § 31-16-6-2 provides that a child support order may include sums for the child's education at institutions of higher learning, where appropriate.
Iowa N/A Iowa Code § 598.1(8), §598.1(9), and §598.21f provide that "support" means an obligation which may include support for a child who is between the ages of 18 and 22 who is regularly attending an accredited school or is, in good faith, a full time student in college or has been accepted for admission to college for the next term.
Kansas Any other reason by agreement of the parties only. No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
Kentucky N/A No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement. See also Reed v. Reed, 457 S.W.2d 4 (Ky. 1970).
Louisiana N/A No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
Maine N/A No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
Maryland The court may order support if the parties involved agree to support the child through 4 years of college or higher education. The Maryland child support guidelines provide that in determining whether the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case, the court may consider the terms of any existing separating or property settlement agreement or court order, including any provisions for payment of college educational expenses. Md. Family Law Code Ann. § 12-202.
Massachusetts A court, in its discretion, may order support up to age 23 if a child is domiciled with a parent and principally dependent on that parent due to the child's enrollment in an education program, excluding educational costs beyond an undergraduate degree. Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch. 208, § 28
Michigan Beyond 19 1/2 by agreement of the parties. No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
Minnesota Support can extend beyond this date if specifically addressed in the order and if parties had agreed to an educational trust fund for cost of post-secondary education. Minn. Stat.§ 518.551 subd. 5d. No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
Mississippi If the parties agree, support may continue beyond the age of majority. Since the age of majority in Mississippi is 21, support for college expenses may be ordered up to that age. Stokes v. Martin, 596 So.2d 879 (Miss. 1992).
Missouri If a child enrolls in college or vocational school by October 1 following high school graduation, support continues until age 21 or when his/her education is completed if the child: 1. Enrolls for and completes at least 12 hours of credit each semester; 2. Achieves grades sufficient to re-enroll at the institution; and 3. At the beginning of each semester, submits to each parent a transcript or similar official document provided by the college or vocational school which includes the courses the child is enrolled in and has completed for each semester, the grades and credits received and the courses the child is enrolled in for the coming semester. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 452.340(5)
Montana Life of order may be extended by written agreement or express provision of decree. No duty to provide college support.
Nebraska Only if parties agreed and it's included in the support order. A district court in a dissolution action may not order child support beyond the age of the majority of a child over the objection of any parent absent a previous agreement between the parents. In this case, the parents' prior agreement was enforced. Zetterman v. Zetterman, 245 Neb. 255, 512 N.W.2d 622 (1994).
Nevada N/A No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
New Hampshire There must be a court order to extend beyond the age of majority. Decided on a case by case basis examples of extenuating circumstances. 2013 N.H. Laws, Chap. 2013-0154 (2013 House Bill 554) allows parents to agree on contributions to college or other postsecondary education expenses as part of a stipulated decree of divorce. Sets forth the guidelines for the agreement. Gnirk v. Gnirk, 134 N.H. 199, 589 A.2d 1008 (1991) held that support may be awarded for college expenses of adult children in appropriate circumstances. See also In re Breault, 149 N.H. 359, 821 A.2d 1118 (2003) (trial court has the discretion in both originial and modified support orders to require divorced parties to contribute to their children's college education and to require the noncustodial parent to continue paying child support while the children are attending college).
New Jersey If the child is continuing education or any other reason as determined by the court. Newburgh v. Newburgh, 88 N.J. 529, 443 A.2d 1031 (1982) held that the court has jurisdiction to award a payment of support and expenses of a child attending college even though the child has reached the age of majority.
New Mexico N/A No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
New York By agreement of the parties. N.Y. Do . Re. Law § 240(1-b)(c )(7) provides that the court may award educational expenses, such as for college or private school or for special enriched education. A parent may not, however, be directed to pay child support and/or contribute toward college education expenses for a child who is 21 years of age or older absent express agreement to do so. See Setford v. Cavanaugh, 175 A.D.2d 665, 572 N.Y.S.2d 591 (1991).
North Carolina N/A No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
North Dakota If the parties agree or if the court determines the support to be appropriate. N.D. Cent. Code §14-09-8 provides that parents shall give their children support and education suitable to the child's circumstances, and that the court may compel either or both of the parents to provide for the support of their children. §14-09-15 states that when a child, after attaining majority, continues to serve and to be supported by the parent, neither party is entitled to compensation in the absence of an agreement therefore. N.D. Cent. Code §14-09-08.2(6) allows a court to order support past the age of majority if the parties agree or the court deems it appropriate. See Donarski v. Donarski, 581 N.E.2d 130 (N.D. 1998) (citing Newburgh v. Arrigo, from New Jersey); Johnson v. Johnson, 527 N.W. 2d 663 (N.D. 1995).
Ohio If specified in a court order due to college. No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
Oklahoma N/A No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
Oregon Beneficiaries age 18 and under 21 years of age who qualify as a "child attending school" effective September 1, 2005 must be enrolled in any school at least one-half time and be making satisfactory academic progress as defined by the school. See In re Marriage of Wiebe, 113 Or. App. 535, 833 P.2d 333 (1992). Also see Crocker and Crocker, 332 Or 42, 22 P3d 759 (2001). Or. Rev. Stat. § 107.108 authorizes a court to order a parent to pay support for a child regularly attending post-secondary education to age 21. In re Marriage of Crocker, 157 Or. App. 651, 971 P.2d 469 (1998).
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania no longer recognizes a statutory cause of action for post-secondary educational support. 23 Pa.C.S. §4327(a), was ruled unconstitutional in 1995 by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in the Curtis vs. Kline case. However, contractually based agreements for post-secondary educational support contained in marital separation agreements are enforceable. No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement. contractually based agreements for post-secondary educational support contained in marital separation agreements are enforceable. See Curtis v. Kline, 542 Pa. 249, 666 A.2d 265 (1995).
Puerto Rico Support beyond the age of majority could be ordered only by the court if the child is a full time student, maintains good academic progress and can demostrate economic needs to justify continuation of support.  
Rhode Island N/A No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
South Carolina N/A Court may order college support. Risinger v. Risinger, 273 S.C. 36, 253 S.E.2d 652 (1979); West v. West, 309 S.C. 28, 419 S.E.2d 804 (Ct. App. 1992) (jurisdiction of the family court is permitted in cases of children over 18 years of age where exceptional circumstances warrant it; family court judge may require a parent to contribute that amount of money necessary to enable a child over 18 to attend high school and four years of college, where there is evidence that: (1) the characteristics of the child indicate that he or she will benefit from college; (2) the child demonstrates the ability to do well, or at least make satisfactory grades; (3) the child cannot otherwise go to school; and (4) the parent has the financial ability to help pay for such an education).
South Dakota The parties can agree to a longer period of support and if approved by court order is enforceable and binding upon the parties. No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
Tennessee When the child is in college if it is stated in the court order. No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement. See also Nash v. Mulle, 846 S.W.2d 803 (Tenn. 1993)(the extent to which a trust fund established during the child's minority for her later college education is permitted).
Texas N/A No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
Utah By court order. Utah Code Ann. § 15-2-1 provides that in divorce actions, courts may order support to age 21.
Vermont Only if stipulated by the parties. No statute or case law holding parents  to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
Virgin Islands Support may continue up to age 22 so long as proof is submitted that the child is enrolled and attending college on a full time basis. Proof must be submitted in the form of an official letter from the school registrar certifying, not just enrollment, but attendance on a full time basis.   
Virginia N/A No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
Washington Court may order post-secondary support. Wash. Rev. Code § 26.19.090 provides that the court may, in its discretion and according to enumerated factors, award college support.
West Virginia W. Va. Code 48-11-103 allows the court to award child support past the age of 18 but no later than 20. No duty of college support imposed.
Wisconsin No response available. No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.
Wyoming N/A No statute or case law holding parents to a duty to college support in the absence of an agreement.

Source: Office of Child Support Enforcement Intergovernmental Referral Guide, 2012 and Morgan, Laura W., Child Support Guidelines, 1998 Supplement, Aspen Law & Business, New York, 1998, and 2003 update.

*PLEASE NOTE: The National Conference of State Legislatures is an organization serving state legislators and their staff. We cannot offer legal advice or assistance with individual cases, but we do try to answer questions on general topics.

About This NCSL Project

NCSL staff in D.C. and Denver can provide comprehensive, thorough, and timely information on critical child support policy issues. We provide services to legislators and staff working to improve state policies affecting children and their families. NCSL's online clearinghouse for state legislators includes resources on child support police, financing, laws, research and promicing practices. Technical assistance visits to states are available to any state legisalture that would like training or assistance related to this topic.  

The Denver-based child support project staff focuses on state policy, tracking legislation and providing research and policy analysis, consultation, and technical assistance specifically geared to the legislative audience. Denver staff can be reached at (303) 364-7700 or cyf-info@ncsl.org.

NCSL staff in Washington, D.C. track and analyze federal legislation and policy and represent state legislatures on child support issues before Congress and the Administration. In D.C., Joy Johnson Wilson at 202-624-8689 or by e-mail at joy.wilson@ncsl.org and Rachel Morgan at (202) 624-3569 or by e-mail at rachel.morgan@ncsl.org.

The child support project and D.C. human services staff receive guidance and support from NCSL's Standing Committee on Health & Human Services.

For more information regarding NCSL's child support work, please visit our Child Support Homepage.

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