No Child Support Responsibility for College Costs in PA

In Pennsylvania, unlike New Jersey, child support terminates when a child reaches age 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later. The Court has held that there is no obligation for parents to provide for children beyond this time. Even if your child resides with you and does not have a job and instead chooses to go to college, the other parent will have no obligation to pay anything towards college costs. If, however, you negotiate an agreement in writing with the other parent to pay for college costs and the other parent agrees to it in writing, then the Court can enforce that agreement under contract law. Oftentimes, parents who cannot negotiate an agreement for college costs in their divorce assume this means the other parent has no interest in paying or contributing to college costs. This is not always the case. A parent may still intend to assist a child with college costs but by not putting it in writing, they are not legally obligated to do that and instead, can decide if and how much they want to contribute. Also, it is important to decide where the child who attends college will reside as only the income of the parent with whom they reside will be relevant in qualifying for financial aid. If that parent, remarries, however, the stepparent’s income and assets can affect the amount of financial aid available to the child even if they have no legal obligation to support the child.