There's been a lot of chatter the last week or so about the case in New Jersey of a girl suing her parents for child support and college costs, among other things. This article discusses some of the state laws that affect parents when it comes to paying for college. Rules vary from state to state, but in some states where parents generally have the right to tell the kids that they're on their own when it comes to paying for college, divorced parents may find themselves footing the bill.
When I took Family Law last year, this topic generated some interesting discussion. Basically, the idea is that divorced, noncustodial parents statistically tend to drift away from their kids and not provide for them to the same extent that married or custodial parents do. Requiring noncustodial parents to pay for college is seen as a way of remedying that situation and leveling the playing field for those kids.