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The "SUNY" Cap: A parent's obligation to contribute towards college

The "SUNY" Cap: A parent's obligation to contribute towards college

The Courts in New York State may order the parties to pay for their children to attend college. Pursuant to DRL 240 (1-b) (c ) (7), absent a prior agreement , the Court may direct parents to contribute towards to the cost of a child's private education depending on the parent's ability to pay, the child's previous academic history, any any special needs of the child, and the type of colleges the parents themselves attended.

Often in New York State parties agree to contribute towards their child's college costs on a pro-rata basis, up to a SUNY cap. This means that each parties contribution shall not exceed the cost of a SUNY college at the time the child matriculates in school.

However, a recent decision from New York State Supreme Court Judge Matthew F. Cooper ruled that he was not mandated by the SUNY cap and directed a father to pay 40% of his son's education costs at Syracuse University, in the sum of $21, 200.00. Justice Cooper reduced his pro-rata share from 50% to 40% because of the father's other aid he has already provided to his family since the divorce settlement.

Justice Cooper wrote that "there are no judicially manageable standards to use in a post-judgment divorce proceeding to determine the quality of education a student will receive at Syracuse University as compared to SUNT- Binghamton, or for that matter as a compared to any of the four-thousand other colleges and universities in the United States."

However, in this case, the Court determined that contribution above the SUNY cap was appropriate. Absent a provision in a divorce agreement regarding higher education, the matter may be left to the interpretation and discretion of the Court.

Contact our office to learn more about a parent's obligation to pay for a child's college.


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