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High school cheerleader sues parents over refusal to pay for college

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MORRIS PLAINS, New Jersey (WCBS) - A New Jersey high school honor student has sued her own parents. Rachel Canning claimed her parents threw her out of their house and refused to pay for her college education.

"We're being sued by our own child," Sean Canning said about the lawsuit. "I am dumbfounded. So is my wife and other daughters."

Rachel Canning, a cheerleader at Morris Catholic High School, alleged her parents abandoned her when she turned 18. She said her parents now refuse to pay for college even though she was accepted into several universities.

"I know Rachel is a) a good kid and b) an incredibly rebellious teen, and she's getting some terrible information," her father said.

Dad said his daughter ran away from home away in November because she did not want to follow house rules.

"Living in our house, it is very few rules," he said. "There are minor chores, curfews. When I say curfew it is after 11 o'clock at night."

Rachel has been staying with her best friend, whose attorney father paid for the lawsuit. Attorney John Inglesino said the lawsuit was the only way Canning would be able to go to a college appropriate for her to become a bio medical engineer.

"I reject that question on that, the whole premise," Sean Canning said about the allegation he refused to pay for his daughter's education. "We have a college fund available, but it is the equivalent of shopping at a high end and sending us the bill."

Both sides are scheduled to be in court Tuesday. Rachel Canning asked the court not to emancipate her because under the law a parent has an obligation support their children if they can't stand on their own financially.


  • Keith

    seriously? You are 18 – you are an adult… for your own college like every other kid has done in years past. Quit thinking your parents are going to support you….as they say if you don’t like it, do it yourself. Your parents paid for your room and board as a kid, it doesn’t continue when you turn 18

  • Scallywagandvagabond (@ScallywagNYC)

    One can’t help wonder if the parents are to blame for installing what many perceive to be the daughter’s self entitled view. Of note is why is her interim carer funding her legal fees and why are they willing to risk the daughter’s relationship with the family by going over their head? Most individuals would be forced to fend for themselves, go to a state college or get a job and yet here’s Rachel Canning getting another financial boost to pursue what many would wonder is way off bounds. What happened to respecting to family’s wishes under their house and teenager’s attitude towards their parents …?

  • Joe

    ” a parent has an obligation support their children if they can’t stand on their own financially”

    She’s not a child. She’s an adult. Any judge who spends more than 5 minutes hearing this case should be tossed.

    • Terri Johnson

      I think the attorney should stop wasting money/court/families time and if he feels she is so entitled maybe he should pay her way.

  • Laurin

    I agree she is an adult and should stand on her own, however, when she fills out an application for college financial aide her award will be based o her parents income, not hers, so it creates a problem for her. what’s the difference between a parent who can’t pay and a parent who refuses to pay? She should at least get the same amount as an older adult who is not required to report parent income, but that’s not how it works. I hope she can work things out with her family.

  • McTagh

    If Laurin had not stated this fact. I would have. She’s just trying to get a fair shake to financial aid for college. Hope her parents don’t have to shell out much to defend themselves.

  • troy

    so if shes a runaway and wants to be considered a child,not a adult then this attorney should be charged with aiding a minor,correct?Make up your mind you spoiled brat,put on your big girl panties and pay for your own college.Better yet get your harboring attorney/man friend to pay for it seeing clearly he has nothing better to do with his own education but waste the courts time.

  • Pam McCall

    Has she even heard of J.O.B.!! I suggest she gets one and does what most american kids do, work and put themselves through college even if its nothing but night classes shed still be getting the education and footing her own bill by working for it herself! Time to grow up chick-e-dee!!!!

  • Ida Atkins

    I am in full agreement with everyone here! At 18 you are a legal adult, period! She left the home and still wants a free ride off of the only people who ever gave a d**n about her. Time for some tough love and a swift boot up the backside for this arrogant spoiled brat!!!!

  • Shakira

    Emancipate her ungrateful behind!! Then, she can apply for financial aid as an independent adult and roll the dice on what she gets. If she’s an honor student, I’m sure she’ll get some grants and scholarships. Parents are only legally responsible for you until you hit 18… She ran away, so that means she wants to be treated like an adult. However, she doesn’t want to be amancipated so she CAN be treated like an adult??!! Can’t have it both ways barbiedoll!! And yeah, toss her out of the house as well!! She’s an “adult” remember??!!

  • Jon

    i believe they should stop giving her curfews just because she is staying at home. She should be able to do what she wants even if means going against a simple rule. When i was in high school i stayed up later because i felt like it. It should be her choice because she needs to learn what she needs to do and its her parents who should support until she knows what to do and to teach her what is right and what is wrong.

    • aka MA (@MusingMaryAnn)

      You are most likely a kid yourself and have never been a parent. Life is not a free ride and if she gets to stay out late and can’t handle it, then tough toenails. She left – she can’t have it both ways. There are lots of ways to pay for college, scholarships, going part-time and working – she can pay her own way. Lots of people do it. She wants the path of least resistance. It was easy to walk out, now deal with the consequences.

    • athynz

      Negative Ghost Rider. My adult child still lives with me and as long as she follows the rules in MY house then she can stay as long as she needs to. And those rules are fair – no one in my house without my knowledge, permission, and I have to meet them first. If she goes out don’t wake me up when she comes back home. Then again my child is not a spoiled brat like the girl in this article.

  • Proud Mom

    I can’t afford to pay for my daughters college, I wish to God I could. She filled out the loan papers herself and is working two jobs while going to school. I provide moral support and help out as much as I can but I’m very proud that one thing we did give my daughter is a can do attitude.

    • GoodForYou

      Good for you,and your daughter! I hope she succeeds in every aspect of her life! I just wanted to applaud you. My father didn’t support me financially, and sent me money when he had the spare funds, or even when he didn’t and my car insurance was going to lapse.

      So pat yourself on the back. From me.

  • Carol W

    Get a job . Maybe if her parents see that she really does want a college education , they will help her , after she has proven by her grades that she’s on the right track . As of now , her parents doesn’t owe her anything .

  • TA

    What an ungrateful, spoiled brat! that is the most ridiculous thing i’ve EVER heard! Her parents owe her NOTHING. She made the choice to run away so now you can pay your own way!

  • T

    I wonder how many people will kick their kids out and let them bring suit so that the FAFSA people don’t count their income. sounds like a cottage industry for unscrupulous lawyers.

  • austin n

    You cant file for financial aid on only your income unless your 24. I know a guy who had to drop out because his fathers income required him to pay a huge amount of tuition to be paid up front , whats even worse is his dad was never around growing up.

  • ellen h

    If she can’t follow rules, she shouldn’t go to college. What a waste of everyones time and finances. Even McDonald’s has rules, grow up and figure it out on your own. I feel for the family, how awful for them that she made this public. I hope the judge orders her to pay for all court costs, including her parents.

  • Jasmin

    She is literally an idiot!! I doubt they kicked her out and that is the problem with children these days they believe their owe them something… shouldn’t be the other way around considering they raised you, put a roof over your head and fed you? Seriously, either join the military and they can help you pay for college or loans, grans and scholarships. Plus, she has to get over this I’m not following anyone rules but mine because that will leave you with nothing.

  • S&W380

    Join the military like I did, get a job, get student loans etc. Do you really think you are the only 18 yr old whose parents can’t or won’t pay for college?? Grow up!!

  • candy

    Yeah all you guys have alot to say about grants and loans and a job but what you dont realize its jot just a cake walk like you might think i was an a an b honor role student in highschool myself and wash shoved out of my parents house at the age of 18 over petty bs and took me a whole year to get my fincial aid set up since my parent didnt want to give me the info for the application an the school money helps but dosent cover everything i still struggle so why dont you try the shoe on

    • The Sunny Side

      You’re right, Candy — it’s no cake walk. However, these are the resources we tapped into or the sacrifices we made to get an education. While many of us would like to take what’s considered the traditional route in getting an education, it is many times just not feasible. It’s called LIFE and however sweet or bitter, we have to work around those life experiences to get it — or not get it. It depends on many factors.

      Been there, done that, parents didn’t give a hang about what I did let alone if whether or not I went to college. And put me out at 18 for no reason! And I was the good child! But guess what? I have an Associates, a Bachelors, and TWO Masters degrees. I didn’t have a fabulous job to pay for it or anyone willing to put up money on my behalf to assist. I say all this to say, we are all submitting these posts because we know this is what it takes. Parents are really under no legal obligation to help you do any once you are 18 AND have graduated high school. After this girl has graduated, they really don’t have to do anything for her. Makes for some moral dysfunction in the family, but the law does not readily recognize morality where the law does not apply. It might not sound right, but by law it is.

    • athynz

      I understand life sucks – but some of us started at 19 with nothing more than the clothes on our backs and a suitcase with some clothes and essentials. Basically I was a hellion at a young age and my folks had more than enough of my antics. Needless to say being kicked out a day before I was 19 was a heck of a wakeup call. I’ve worked to pay rent, buy food, and to put myself through school. And I also used grants and loans to do it.

      What ticks me – and the others off commenting here (if I may be so bold as to speak for the others) – is this spoiled brat and her lawyer seem to think she is entitled to financial aid from her parents after she is legally an adult AND ran away from home and she has the same access to grant and loans as everyone else. And this may be the cynic in me speaking but I have to ask what her friend’s lawyer father is getting out of this…

  • Tamara Jones

    I was undee 24 and got financial aid on my own. Ita a different story if you live on your own and can prove it. Not all loans are based on parent income. Many students have left home long before 24.

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