Tuition and Child Support

“My child is heading off to university. Who pays for their tuition?”

Congratulations! After years of hard work, your child is finally leaving the nest to explore the exciting world of post-secondary education! It’s no secret that the costs of higher learning continue to skyrocket. If that first tuition bill is leaving you wondering how on earth you are going to afford this next step in your child’s life, you are not alone! 

Plan, plan, and plan some more!

Even though your child is now considered an adult by society’s standards, child support obligations will likely continue. The Guidelines contemplate tuition as an extraordinary expense, which means it is not covered by basic child support amounts. As with other ‘section 7’ expenses, tuition must be considered reasonable and necessary to qualify for extra support. If for example, your child wishes to attend a four-year pre-medicine program in another country they may not be eligible for tuition support if a similar program is available in their hometown at a significantly reduced cost.

Parents typically pay tuition in proportion to their income.

In determining the extent of each parent’s contribution, the law takes into account:

  • The means of each parent
  • Aptitude and effort demonstrated by the child
  • The family’s pre-separation plans for the child’s education
  • Tuition support obligations for other children pursuing a higher education
  • Funding available through student loans, scholarships, bursaries, RESPs, etc. 

Is my child expected to contribute?

Probably. As a general principle, children without special considerations or disabilities are expected to contribute part of their net earnings to support their post-secondary studies. However, to what extent remains unsettled by the courts.