Are you plannning to pay for your children's post-secondary tutitions?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I have been told that most parents pay for their children's universities/colleges. However, I prefer that my own children pay for their own tutitions because I want them to have a sense of responsibilty when it comes to balancing so many things (marriage, children, jobs, buying a house, education, etc) in your life. But most people said that most parents pay for the tutitions because they don't want their own children to suffer too much burdens when they have school AND a job to pay back the loans?! I was surprised because once you are 18, you should be responsible for your life. What about you? Will you pay doe your children? I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this topic.
Yes, I do plan to pay for as much of it as I can and that is a huge motivator for me to advance my career as quickly as possible as I would like one or two more children.

I do think there is some merit to the idea that kids should contribute to their education and I think I would encourage them to have summer/ part-time jobs where feasible (not at the expense of other experiences they would like to have) and help out with their books, spending money etc. as much as they can. However I would not want their schoolwork or other opportunities to suffer due to them HAVING to work or working a lot of hours. I want them to have the full college experience which includes volunteering, travel, joining groups etc. I also hope my kids are able to get good enough marks to get scholarships so they can pay all or some of their tuition. For myself, my parents never had to pay the full amount because I always had scholarships, awards and earned some of my own money. Besides it costing me less, there are obvious advantages to them in having scholarships so I would certainly encourage that if I believe they're capable.

However, I think that where parents are able to support their college student kids financially and still meet their other obligations, there is no reason they shouldn't do so. I personally see it as part of my parental responsibility and part of my obligation to my kids - and I WANT to do it because them going to college is something I see as very, very important and one of the best ways to demonstrate the importance is to put the money up.

For myself, my parents contributing financially to my education NEVER made me feel entitled or take it for granted - because they were putting their trust in me I took that seriously and did not want to disappoint them.

Another thing to consider is that contributing financially extends the parent-child relationship - if you're paying, you should be able to see their grades and set limits on them not spending $ on irresponsible things. If they are self-sufficient, they're an adult and it is difficult or impossible to comment on their lives. I don't think 18 is old enough to be fully independent these days in the vast majority of cases.

Of course, I realize that the choice to pay for your kids' college is a privilege many people do not have and I am speaking only of those who can afford it.
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I used the survivors benefits I received from my mother to pay for mine, so in a way she paid for my college. I'd pay as much as I could for my kids. I'd always help them with school.
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I've gotten the impression that the attitude, "You're on your own once you turn 18, even though I can easily afford to help you," is culturally very WASP, and perhaps even specific to the US. Even in a lot of Western countries, adult children live with their parents until they get married or finish with school.

The idea that no one appreciates their education unless they pay for it themselves is completely ridiculous, IMO. That may be true for some people, but I appreciate the hell out of my undergrad education, "even though" my parents paid all my tuition and living expenses. On top of that, if someone doesn't care about college or about how much things cost, then paying for college themselves won't change anything. They're not going to have to worry about paying back those student loans until later. While you're a student, it's very easy to ignore that the loans are there. So while I think it's reasonable not to pay tuition for a child who sees college as one big frat party, that probably won't change the child's attitude.

And finally, with the exception of a handful of majors, education doesn't end with college graduation. In order to get a job, you have to continue with grad school or professional school (law, medical, etc.). And the debt from post-undergrad school can be crippling. So I think that that alone is reason enough for parents to contribute what they can to their child's college tuition.

Last edited by Eilonwy; 05-28-2011 at 03:04 PM.
I feel the same way you do, I believe in my kids working for the worthwhile things in life so they can learn responsibilty. My parents did the same thing with me, only it started when I was 17, they bought me a car in their name, but I was responsible for making the payments on it. On a side note, I wrecked that car 4 months later and earned the nickname crash from my dad lol.

After I finished high school I was on my own (ran off and got married too, but that's another story), but I really appreciate the things I have and where I am in life because I had to work so hard to get here.

I don't know many people who had help from their parents for their education (only 2 come to mind), but of the ones I do know, they have a harder time adjusting to taking care of themselves than the ones who worked for everything that they have.

People think I'm weird for feeling this way, but that's ok, it's up to each of us to do what we think is best for our children.

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I've gotten the impression that the attitude, "You're on your own once you turn 18, even though I can easily afford to help you," is culturally very WASP, and perhaps even specific to the US.

The idea that no one appreciates their education unless they pay for it themselves is completely ridiculous, IMO. That may be true for some people, but I appreciate the hell out of my undergrad education, "even though" my parents paid all my tuition and living expenses. On top of that, if someone doesn't care about college or about how much things cost, then paying for college themselves won't change anything. They're not going to have to worry about paying back those student loans until later. While you're a student, it's very easy to ignore that the loans are there. So while I think it's reasonable not to pay tuition for a child who sees college as one big frat party, that probably won't change the child's attitude.

And finally, with the exception of a handful of majors, education doesn't end with college graduation. In order to get a job, you have to continue with grad school or professional school (law, medical, etc.). And the debt from post-undergrad school can be crippling. So I think that that alone is reason enough for parents to contribute what they can to their child's college tuition.
Originally Posted by Eilonwy
Thank you for this! It is a VERY different world from that which my parents grew up in and in order to get a good job these days lots of education is needed. I'm 26 and attempting to go back to get a professional degree and I am beyond grateful that my parents were able to help me. We are a family and I am so lucky that my parents continue to parent me even as I am approaching 30. It does not mean that I am not a hard worker or irresponsible just because my parents were able to help me with my education or that I do not treasure what they have been able to give me. In fact I feel guilt and shame that despite already being well educated and 26 I am still unable to fully support myself and am needing to still rely on them.

My parents don't have the once you turn 18 you are on your own attitude and I don't plan on having the same with my children. To me a family is there to help support each other throughout their lives as much as they are able to. It goes both ways. When my parents are old I have every intention of helping pay them back for what they have given me as much as I can.
However, I think that where parents are able to support their college student kids financially and still meet their other obligations, there is no reason they shouldn't do so. I personally see it as part of my parental responsibility and part of my obligation to my kids - and I WANT to do it because them going to college is something I see as very, very important and one of the best ways to demonstrate the importance is to put the money up.
Originally Posted by Amneris
Yup, I agree with this. If someone expects her kids to go to college, then she should expect to help them financially to the extent that she can.

I grew up with my parents talking about my "college account," so it's very hard for me to understand someone choosing not to do this even though they're able to. But I try to appreciate that different families have different values and practices.

Last edited by Eilonwy; 05-28-2011 at 03:15 PM.
Within the current school system in America I think any parents who make reasonable money and refuse to pay for their kids are cruel. There is a lot of financial aid available if a family is low income but scholarships have limited numbers and require specific skills. So a kid from a middle class home with parents too selfish to plan for their education who isn't a top student can't afford school without crippling amounts of debt - need based financial aid takes into account parental income and expects parents to pay.

My parents didn't pay a cent for me because they were in terrible financial situations at the time. But that meant they didn't have incomes which hurt me getting scholarships. And it wasn't out of selfishness, either.

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My father was in the position to be able to pay for my education, but it came with the stipulation that I would always have a part-time job. The pt job was for me to have spending money and to pay for anything "extra" that I would want. If I didn't want to live on campus and have him pay for the dorm housing, then I would have to pay for an off campus apartment myself. If I didn't want to participate in the housing food program, then I would have to pay for groceries myself.

I'm very grateful he was able to do this for me and I can't imagine how I would have been able to complete my undergrad without him. I still got into financial trouble with credit cards because I didn't have a good concept of money when I first went to college (I had just turned 17), and he refused to help me with that debt. I do believe I'm the better person for it because I am very money-conscious now and manage my money very carefully so as not to end up in the same situation. I also paid off the $16,000 of credit card debt I somehow racked up in college (I have no idea what the hell I bought) and am so proud I was able to tackle that seemingly insurmountable debt.

Sorry, slight guano there... anyways, IMO, I feel that if parents are able to pay for and/or help out their kids with college expenses, then it isn't detrimental to their child learning how to manage life/kids/job/money.
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I have 4 children. There's no way I can just outright pay $100,000 per child for a 4 year college education. They're all going to have to be creative, take loans, get scholarships, be frugal, work, be careful about choice of school, use our small savings wisely...and hope for the best.

My oldest gets financial aid and loans because he went to college as an emancipated adult. My second is using a combination of athletic scholarships, loans, and working, and he's choosing to live on campus, so his loans will be higher than if he chose to live at home. My 3rd and 4th are working hard to have good resumes of community service and good grades, so as to qualify for scholarships.

The cost of college has become outrageous in the last decade. It's unaffordable for the middle class anymore. And there is precious little (none) financial aid for anyone above poverty level, so it's loans loans loans. Crushing debt. I've told all my children that they need to be ready to hit the ground running when they get out of college, so they have to study something that will get them a good job...no studying liberal arts or fields that require advanced degrees before you can earning a living, like pyschology or sociology. If they want to go to grad school, they need to get an undergrad degree in something workable first.
I have 4 children. There's no way I can just outright pay $100,000 per child for a 4 year college education. They're all going to have to be creative, take loans, get scholarships, be frugal, work, be careful about choice of school, use our small savings wisely...and hope for the best.

My oldest gets financial aid and loans because he went to college as an emancipated adult. My second is using a combination of athletic scholarships, loans, and working, and he's choosing to live on campus, so his loans will be higher than if he chose to live at home. My 3rd and 4th are working hard to have good resumes of community service and good grades, so as to qualify for scholarships.

The cost of college has become outrageous in the last decade. It's unaffordable for the middle class anymore. And there is precious little (none) financial aid for anyone above poverty level, so it's loans loans loans. Crushing debt. I've told all my children that they need to be ready to hit the ground running when they get out of college, so they have to study something that will get them a good job...no studying liberal arts or fields that require advanced degrees before you can earning a living, like pyschology or sociology. If they want to go to grad school, they need to get an undergrad degree in something workable first.
Originally Posted by RedCatWaves
I am in the same boat as you. That's why I am ready to work very hard to get good marks and get plenty of scholarships, if possible.
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we regularly contribute to their college funds. we don't think that we'll be able to pay the full undergrad for either of them, unless they plan to live off campus at home, which we won't mind. we don't believe that our parenting and assistance ends when they turn 18.

if they choose to stay on campus or get an apartment, they'll have to budget to help pay their way in addition to what we've saved for them.

we don't mind saving for them. it is our pleasure. yet, as important as we know an advanced education is, we would not sacrifice our retirement, nest egg, or emergency savings to put them through school. if it came to that, they'd have to get student loans and/or work to pay their own way. we know two people who depleted their retirement and took a second out on their mortgage for their kids' education. and the disappointing thing is that one's child didn't use her degree and ended up choosing regular jobs that barely required a high school diploma. and the other became a high-paid professional who does not share his wealth with his retirement-aged parents who have to work if they want to eat and have shelter in their mid-60s.

contributing to their education is important to us, but not at the expense of our comfort and livelihood in our old age. they'll be much younger and healthier and with a fresher state of mind than we'll likely be. so if push came to shove, the rightful burden would be on them to carry their own financial weight.
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When we were babies, my parents started college funds for us. By the time I graduated from high school, I had enough money in it to pay for a 4 year degree from a state school. I lived at home while going to college and worked part time for spending money. I also applied for and received merit scholarships along the way to help with expenses.

I paid for my Masters and would not have expected my parents to pay for me to go to grad school.
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My husband and I have told the kids that we'll pay for 4 years of college. If they stay on track, they'll graduate with no debts. But then they'll be on their own. Any post graduate degree will be on their dime. So far one daughter has graduated (on time with a double major and is now living independently) and our second is a junior at PSU (on track to grad. on time with a degree in 2nd ed, Chemistry, 3.7 GPA). Our son will start at UMASS Amherst in the fall. All three are extremely responsible and truly appreciative. I think if parents can afford it - without risking their retirement - helping their kids with college expenses is worthwhile. BUT the kids have to do their part by getting good grades and graduating on time.
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My husband has already signed his post-9/11 GI Bill over to our daughter and she will use that towards her education. That is a huge benefit for us to be able to do that. As long as we are able to, we will help her pay for college. I do think taking on a bunch of debt when you are starting out can be very hard to overcome. I remember getting my first job out of college and if I had to pay rent, loans, utilities and food, not to mention all the little things that quickly add up, I would have drowned in debt.

Also, my parents paid for my first go at college and I was much more responsible and studious because I felt like I would be wasting my parent's hard earned money if I partied and earned bad grades. I did pay for food and my room and all other things except tuition. I had a very good paying job during college but I only worked on weekends. The second time around, I took out a boatload of loans and detest that many years later, I'm still paying for these things. I was still a responsible student but if I let anyone down, it was myself so I didn't feel as much pressure.
my parents cosigned loans for me..they pay for my groceries...or they did I now have a summer job so I'm trying to do my own thing. They also used the loans to pay my rent with. I don't know if that means they paid for it...but they put me into school otherwise I wouldn't know what the hell to do.
My mom helped with my college as much as she was able. Being a widow with 5 kids and a small business that had been my dad's, she wasn't exactly rich. The rest I paid for with financial aid, scholarships, loans, and by working several jobs at a time.

I think if you have the means to pay for your kids' college but simply refuse, at least do the right thing and quit claiming them on your taxes so they can get financial aid.
no studying liberal arts or fields that require advanced degrees before you can earning a living, like pyschology or sociology.
Originally Posted by RedCatWaves
My impression is that for nearly all science-related jobs you need at least a Masters. I can think of a few exceptions, but I don't think there are too many.
My parents have always told me they're fully responsible for paying for my college.
Very lovely of them, but I do intend to help them out and work, of course.

Personally I don't think college is the place to teach your kids to be independent. There's too much on the line. It would be terrible if one of my friends couldn't go to their dream school simply because they couldn't afford it, but at the same time their parents could easily afford it.
At this point a community college or lesser known state college is probably the only thing we could feasibly afford on our own.

Of course I'm only a kid but...there's my two cents.
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My parents covered my 4 years at a private college (which was not actually outrageously priced) in full. There were expectations - that I would prioritize school over athletics and socializing - but they really were never discussed, as my grades were always good and, perhaps more importantly, my parents and I spoke regularly and they knew how hard I was working.

The idea that one doesn't appreciate an education that is paid for by someone else is quite silly. I chose my college and I wanted to go there so badly for the academic opportunities. My parents were more than generous in giving me the chance to go there, and I truly believe that my college experiences are what set me up for career and life success. I had 3 job offers within a few days of graduation, took a full time job utilizing my BS in Chemistry at the University of North Carolina that included full benefits, etc. (the pay was 24,000/yr) and supported myself entirely for the 2 years before I went to medical school. I covered my medical school tuition and living expenses with loans. My parents supported me in one major way - they put up the down payment for my condo and cosigned my mortgage, which they recouped their principal and a significant profit when we sold it four years later. I paid the mortgage out of my student loans. Other than that, their financial support has been limited to train tickets/gas money to visit them, the occasional check when I registered for board exams, and lots of pitching in and helping out (helping spruce up my condo before we sold it, helping me move to my current apartment).

I guess what I'm trying to say is that my parents' financial support of my education did not diminish my appreciation for it, and that it didn't handicap my entrance into the "real world."
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