College Expenses: Should Parents Pay For Their Children’s Tuition?

College Is Expensive.  Who Should Pay?

A lot of our married friends have been having kids lately, and as a result some of them have started saving for their kid’s future college education.

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I think it is admirable to be planning ahead, and ensuring that your children get an education. But my question is this: Should parents be paying for all of their children’s education in the first place?

My College Expenses  And How They Were Paid

should parents pay for college

When I was growing up my parents were never well off as my father worked at a local church food shelf ministering to others in their neediest of times. We didn’t have a lot, but we had what we needed. We learned a good work ethic, how to serve others and of course the value of a dollar (much easier to do this when you don’t have much).

When I was in high school it was made clear to me that I would need to get good grades, and try for college scholarships in order to pay for my education. My parents would help where they could, but the amount they could contribute to my education was limited.

When I graduated high school, I graduated with honors and consequently received some grants, as well as other free money for school. In addition, my parents co-signed on student loans in order that I could pay the rest of my tuition, room and board.

Right off the bat I was aware that my education was costing me something. I went from having no debt to having thousands of dollars in debt to my school. Because I was paying so much of my own money (or future money) I knew I had to get the most out of my education. I ended up graduating 4 years later, and I think because I was paying for most of my own education, I got so much more out of it. I wasn’t just going to school to party or to meet people.

Why Might It Be Good To Not Pay For All Of Your Child’s Education?

In today’s world it is almost expected that parents will either pay for most, or all of a child’s education costs. People who don’t are almost looked on as being bad parents. I don’t think this is a great mindset to come from, and I think there are a lot of advantages to not paying for all of your kid’s education:

  1. If they realize they’ll be paying for their own schooling, they’ll work harder in school to get academic scholarships: In my own case I strove hard in high school to get good grades so that I could qualify for pell grants, school scholarships and other free money that is often available. (this might be another post in itself).
  2. Paying for your own college experience promotes responsibility: When you’re paying for something it will often be that much more important to you to get the most out of it. I know I worked that much harder because I knew I would be paying off this debt for years to come. I didn’t want it to be for nothing. If your parents pay, sometimes it can be looked upon as an entitlement, free money to be spent as you would like. I knew a lot of these rich kids at school who were just there for the booze, drugs and parties. They weren’t paying for it, so what did they care?
  3. Paying for your own school gives you a better work ethic: Having to work a job while going to school can be hard, but it can also teach you the value of a hard day’s work. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

College Isn’t For Everyone

Another point that I think needs to be made is that college isn’t for everyone. Don’t assume that your child will need or want to go to  college.   Some people will be fine going to a 2 year technical school, or no schooling beyond high school at all. It all depends on what they want to do, and what their goals are. Saddling your kids with a bunch of unnecessary debt isn’t a good idea either – especially if they don’t want to go to college in the first place.

Not Paying For College Can Help Them!

For those of you out there who would feel guilty not paying for your child’s education, remember that you’re not just leaving them out in the wind. You’re actually helping them.

  1. Teaching them how to live: As Llama money pointed out, “There is no better teacher in this world than responsibility”. By making them watch their expenses, live within a budget (their loan/grant money), and make wise money decisions you are actually laying the groundwork for their future financial life.
  2. Teaching them the value of a dollar: When your child is having to watch every dime that comes in and out to make ends meet, it will really give them an inside look at the concept of money, and how important it is to manage your money wisely. Hey, see – Ramen noodles aren’t so bad!

While I am of the opinion that a parent shouldn’t pay for all of their kids schooling because it can promote a sense of entitlement, I don’t think it is wrong to help them out either. Giving them some college funds and encouraging them in everything they do is definitely a plus. Finding a happy medium between paying for all of their schooling and helping them to become financially responsible adults is where I think we need to be.

For more great articles about parents, children and money:

Last Edited: 25th April 2013

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  1. says

    My husband and I were very fortunate to graduate from college without any school-related debt.

    I had almost a semester’s worth of credit before even starting college, thanks to placement tests and high school courses offering dual credit.

    We went to a state school where tuition was lower than out of state or private.

    We worked all but the first semester of college and contributed to tuition and our expenses.

    I earned a few small scholarships, landed some paid internships, and did things on campus to reduce my tuition and room & board.

    Our families helped out a great deal. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without them! I hope that I’ll be able to contribute at least 60-70% of my children’s college educations, but only if my husband and I are able to contribute to our retirement first.

    Kacies last blog post..Long-term care insurance

  2. Marybeth says

    Being a recent graduate without any aid from my parents, I want to say that I don’t that this article is very correct. Our current government only recognizes that parents are going to make it their responsibility to manage their student’s tuition. My parents made it my responsibily to pay my bills and find my loans, and refused to fill out the FAFSA or give me the information to fill it out. I couldn’t take out federal loads or get any aid…I also graduated highschool with high honors and my state school did not care at all.

    As far as working, just because somebody learns how valuable money is doens’t mean that they are just going to get good grades. Working 20-30 hours a week significantly reduces study time – especially when grades are based upon competition with classmates.

    Now that I have successfully graduated with a degree in neuroscience, I make just about as much money as a retail worker and owe 65 thousand dollars.

    Something needs to change in our economy. College students are adults and can’t be held accountable for tuition payments just because their parents have the money, especially when they aren’t willing to give it up.

    • says

      I am sorry, but the fact that you graduated with a degree in neuroscience and make just about as much money as a retail worker and owe 65 thousand is EXACTLY why parents should NOT pay for all of their children’s college expenses. I personally know many other people who, just like you, took out huge loans to send their kids to the most prestigious schools they could afford, and their kids (most of whom graduated, and a few of whom dropped out) did NOTHING with their education after graduation!

      There is a saying: “If you want to [party] you go to school. If you want an education, you go to the library” Do a google search for “College Lectures online” and you will find thousands and thousands of online lectures from the best professors at the best universities in the country. Education is free, but responsibility is priceless.

      • Marybeth says

        I did not party. I studied and worked and got high honors. In order to get into med school, you need a 4.0 and hundreds of hours of volunteer work and cultural experiences..which is hard to do when you need to support yourself financially. I did not go to a luxurious school… I went to a state school. If you cant continue on to medical school or affort to go right into graduate school, you work in research funded by the government, which is what I do. Do not assume that money is correlated with responsibity.

        • Shaun says

          I’m sorry, but there is no way your story reflects someone doing everything right. If your GPA wasn’t high enough, you probably shouldn’t have gone to med school, and should have rethought your degree choice entirely.

          The moral of that story isn’t that parents should help — it’s that you shouldn’t pick brain science if you’re not going to be good enough or able enough to do something with it.

        • Jamie says

          I was accepted into medical school with a BS in biology, a 3.8 gpa, and less than 100 hours of volunteer work. I worked as a tutor throughout undergrad to pay my tuition and received several scholarships, most of which involved continually reapplying every semester. Yes, my parents helped a little, but they live below the poverty line and the majority of the weight fell on my shoulders. The differance between us has nothing to do with our parents help or where we came from. It’s that I wanted it more and I worked harder. Now you can go around complaining about how you were cheated, or you can pick yourself up and keep going. Life’s not fair. I didn’t choose to be born poor, but I did choose to work hard with what I was given.

          • TJ says

            It’s actually easier for poor kids to get loans for living and what not, and tutoring during college won’t pay for an entire undergraduate degree unless you’re on a full ride scholarship.

            Also, tutoring isn’t the same as working 20 to 30 hours a week. Trust me, undergrad was brutal for me, I am now in a masters program and my GPA is just as good as the kids who tutored or whatever, but in undergrad it was very difficult for me.

      • Johnathan says

        Education might be free but try getting any job which requires any sort of certification by saying “it’s ok I watched the professors at Harvard/UCLA/Oxford on youtube lecturing me on law/anatomy/nuclear physics for 50,000 hours.” the only respectable fields I can even remotely seeing this working in maybe business and the arts. And honestly would you trust your doctor/lawyer/nuclear researcher with their responsibilities if they only had what they learned from the internet lectures?

        It’s a nice theory, but then again so was communism, it just doesn’t quite pan out in real life. There is just so much more to education then knowledge.

    • Clint says


      I feel your frustration, I was in a similar situation, but at least I was able to fill out financial aid forms.

      I didn’t mind so much that my parents didn’t help pay for college. But I resented the fact that my aid was limited due to my parents income, income which the government expected they would use towards my education but didn’t.

      My sister was in a similar situation. We both went to the same schools, but it was easier for her because her tuition was 1/2 of what I had to pay. Also when she started college, the government was much more generous with aid than it was when I started college 4 years later. As a woman, she was also eligible for more scholarships than me. She didn’t need to work during college, I did. She says she doesn’t know if she could’ve done what I had to do.

    • Taneisha says

      I believe it is the parents responsibility to pay for their childrens tuition, but more importantly teach their children the importance of obtaining an education and maintaining good credit. Too many parents are throwing their children out in the world without giving them the resources they need to get an education.

      • Bruce says

        I disagree Taneisha. My parents did not pay for any of my college so I took it upon myself to fund it. College is not a right. In my case, I spent four years in the military and then worked full time while going to school. It wasn’t easy but not impossible. I’ve been supporting my two kids for almost 18 years now and my stance is that if you would like an education beyond the 12th grade, it is your responsibility to figure out how to pay for it. End of story.

      • Michele says

        I totally disagree with Taneisha. . Children should learn responsibility early. I watched my own children , who each paid for their own college education, and they are now completely debt-free and not even 30 years old. They have a great respect for their accomplishments and a real view of life. Only their friends who never paid for anything think their parents should pay for their first car, car insurance, cell phones, and college education, first houses, etc. These same kids shock me with their mindset of being entitled to so many things. They continue to be selfish and unreliable in so many instances. They disregard what should be their responsibility and are continually discourteous of others expense and efforts. Quite frankly they are spoiled and do mot see it. They play the martyr and mooch off of their friends. No thanks. My children were much better prepared and thankful for the challenge and accomplishments that made them stronger, independent, and reliable Not every family has the income to pay for their children’s expenses. They would put it to better use by saving it for a time when their children learn some responsibility and need the extra later. They will be stronger when life gets tough. Believe me– It will at some point. Good luck to you.

  3. Megan says

    It would be extremely irresponsible for parents to refuse to contribute to their children’s education. All colleges, even those with excellent financial aid programs, expect financially-able parents to contribute. Many won’t consider the fact that they refuse to, and won’t acknowledge a student as independent unless they are significantly estranged or even divorced from their parents. Your child will be saddled with whatever burden the colleges decide you can handle, and the wealthier you are, the harder it is for your child to overcome the debt, and this could lead them to making poor choices- choosing careers poorly suited to them because of their earning potential, choosing a less expensive, less rigorous college that isn’t challenging enough, working too hard to study enough or take a breather and enjoy the last few free years of their lives. Tuition and expenses have far outpaced inflation- it costs a ton more for your kids than it did for you. The economy is shaky, and job prospects when they get out might not be the sunniest, and huge loans and no viable job is a sure recipe for bankrupcty or worse- moving back in!

    I’m not suggesting that they shouldn’t be responsible for their own living expenses. They should have some sort of job and should pay for supplies, clothing, food outside of their meal plan, entertainment, cell phones, and other discretionary expenditures. But I can’t picture saddling my child with $200,000 if there’s anything I can do to help.

  4. Ron says

    First of all, telling your children in advance that your are footing the college bill is irresponsible. Secondly, at the undergraduate level, pedigree (the specific university one attends) is largely meaningless. A state school often has a equivalent program to a private university. The above items being said, get your high achieving student to bust their butt and get A’s early. They should take the ACT/SAT early,(regardless of what their guidance counseler says)
    FRESHMAN year of high school to get a baseline, and retake it as often as it takes to get a 30 ACT composite, or a SAT of 1400 (math/verbal). Given a 3.5+ GPA, your student can write their ticket to at least 2/3 of their college expenses paid for, and in some cases, a full ride, all based on MERIT, not a govt hand out. For those students that do not meet the aforementioned requirement, perhaps they need to look at a 2 year
    community college, get the high grades there on the cheap, then transfer to a state school. Too many students (and their parents) think they are Ivy League material, when they are really not. It is NOT the parents legal nor moral responsibility to give their kids the “Parental Scholarship”. Telling your kids they have to earn their way will reveal their character. That will be the largest barometer of their future success.

    • cayla says

      Get a 3.5 and write your ticket?? How long ago did you apply for college? We are a middle class family, both my children graduated high school with above a 4.O, and had close to 1400 on SAT’s. Both are engineering students, one being on the deans list for past 2 years. Now what we get from college, which is a state school, nothing.! Parents are expected to have the means to pay. I know people making way more money than me, and feel they shouldn’t have to pay, because the are looking for a loophole and a free ride. Unfortunately I haven’t found it, just work 2 jobs and save to put them throught school. Why do you wonder, I’m counting on once they graduate will be making their own money. For now its a sacrifice for me and also an investment. Don’t deny your kids the opportunity to not being stuck working fast food the rest of their life.

      • Concerned_Memphian says

        Not sure what you’re doing wrong, but with a 4.0 GPA and 1400 SAT’s, your kids should have had a bundle of scholarships! (Not sure how close to 1400 “close” is ..)

        My kids had scores and grades very similar to those you described, and had several full tuition scholarship offers around the country.

        • Hope says

          It probably depends on the school. If you are going to a less competitive school, good grades and and high test scores may be able to get you scholarships. Schools offer scholarships as incentives for students to go there. If they don’t need your business, they don’t care what your kid’s GPA or test scores are. Lots of kids get 4.0s and high test scores.

    • Melissa says

      Hahahah! Wow you are SO far removed from the college world. Come on back to reality and I’ll show you how college finances and acceptance actually works.

  5. says

    A very thought-provoking essay on a very important topic. To be sure, there are no easy answers here. The author bravely makes some statements that few dare to make but need to be said, such as the fact that a college education may not be for everyone. We need more honest discussions along these lines.

    Daniel K. Berman, Ph.D., Director

  6. says

    We told our kids we would pay for their college IF we could afford it, (which Praise God, we were able to)and IF they went to local state colleges and lived at home. If they had chosen to go away to college, they knew they had to pay at least 1/2 and possibly more, depending on what college they went to. With the exception of one semester, they all chose to take that route. They got excellent educations at reasonable prices which we all appreciated! :)

    Kayes last blog post..Frugal Travel Tip for Caregivers: Fly and Rent

    • Hope says

      I like this idea. I have not been sure what to tell my kids about how college will be funded. I don’t like the idea of telling them it is paid for because I want them to try to save up, but I don’t want to discourage them either. Your way was open and honest, and left a degree of uncertainty which requires them to partner with you in taking the responsibility. I also really like the idea of applying practical conditions to your support, because it also requires them to think about the costs of an education and the trade-offs between what is glamorous and what is economical. I think we tend to think that all costs of an education count as an investment and so it is okay to splurge there, but really there are a lot of ways that college expenses can be reduced and managed including by being a wise shopper of where you go (and not falling into the philosophy that you have to go to an expensive private school to be successful).

  7. Alice says

    I disagree with your point of view, probably because I was raised differently.

    I was born in China to two highly-educated parents. When we came to America when I was 9, my parents told me that all they wanted me to do was to do well in school and life. I was expected to get good grades and participate and excel in extra-curricular activities as well.

    I didn’t think much of it until I was a junior in high school (last year), but I finally realized how much investment they put into me. 12 years of piano lessons, private tennis and golf lessons, swim team, art classes…

    They also made it clear to me that they do not want me to take out loans for college. They encourage me to get part-time jobs for the sake of gaining experience, but they don’t want me to be stressed about finance. Not only do they want to pay for college, they also want to pay for law school. I am so grateful for them.

    In the Chinese culture, parents are dedicated to their children for their entire lifetime. Duty doesn’t end when a child becomes an adult. It’s incomprehensible why parents would “kick out” a child after high school and throw them into a world without support.

    It’s reasonable for parents to pay for their children’s education if they are capable, because that enables children to stay focused in school and not worried about making money. Socialization is also important because a lot of times, that’s where opportunity pops up. If students can devote all their time to studying, then they are more likely to finish school sooner with better grades. It’s an investment, really, because good grades and schools can get you a better job, which will make you more money.

    In return, the children will pay for THEIR children. The cycle works out for everyone, and no one is left uncared for.

    • Edge says

      Don’t kid yourself. Your parents spoiled the crap out of you and you have had an extremely easy life.

      Parents should be supportive of their children, but they need to draw a line in how much hand-holding and spoon-feeding they do in order if they want you to really grow as a person and develop lifelong skills.

    • says

      I disagree, actually. I don’t think it’s not incomprehensible to kick out a child after high school, because they’re not a child — they’re an adult. They’ve had 18 years to prepare for the world, and if they’re not ready, that’s really their responsibility.

      When I went to college, my dad made it clear I was a man leaving the home — not a child going to summer camp. This gave me a realistic level of expectation, and I’m very proud they did that.

    • jack says

      Alice, Great response! You and your parents are successful because of your selflessness. Many parents expect their children to fund their own education and cannot figure out why the return home to live after four years of college. “Pay now or pay forever” If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

  8. Dian says

    I do not believe parents should have to pay for their child’s college education, nor should they be forced to contribute at all. We raised these kids all their lives and paid for everything , not just in a financial aspect. There are plenty of ways to get through college or technical school without going into debt. Yea, it might take a little longer to get through, but you will if YOU want it and it means something to you!
    Two of my six have gone to college now and one other than self educated and passed a licensing exam on her own. We did not contribute to their extended education, but we did support them in every other way that we could. All of them have agreed that had they not had to do it on their own they would not appreciate their achievements.
    On another note, we have many friends that did pay for thier childs college education only to have their child bum out or not even use the degree once they graduated. Their parents however are still paying those bills.

    Isn’t 18 + yrs of raising a child our only real obligation? We need to raise mature responsible adults, not grown children.

    • Clint says


      I don’t feel parents should have to pay for their child’s education either. But if parents aren’t paying, then the school/government should take that into account when a child is applying for aid.

      Imagine if car loans or mortgages were like school loans. “Sorry, we can’t loan you the amount of money you need because your parents make too much money.”

      • Sherry says

        I agree. The FAFSA is ridiculous. Not only can we not afford to help our kids but scholarships are hard to find. I would love to be able to help pay for some of my kids expenses
        (not all) as the expenses of a state college are out of this world and I would not wish that much debt on any person starting out in this world. Even working through college would not cover the expenses these days. I believe when I was in college as well as now when my kids are in college that FAFSA or the govt. should take into consideration who is paying and offer scholarships or aid they can apply for. Both my kids have done well in school and have so much dual-credit that they can go to a 4 year school. We are found some success finding small scholarship – Thank you God.

        • Sherry says

          -continuation — my husband and I make well under 100K but the FAFSA says we should be able to help our first child by over 24,000 a year in college! HA! I am not sure how they figure this out. With our second one about to begin college in a year we have gotten more creative. You can work in the housing dept to get free room and board in college. You will also earn a small salary to help. If you can get a bunch of small scholarships to help cover your first year then you can save that for the second year until you can apply for an internship to help as well. Also the full-ride scholarships are not always published on college web-sites but they do require very high scores on the SAT/ACT. If your child is very smart but not good at testing this may be hard to achieve. We are still working on getting to the scores needed. My first child moved back home and is working full-time and going to a local 4 year college. I am so proud of him because he helps us so much by covering most of all of his expenses and we help where we can – free room and board, covering other expenses and food etc. I am hoping to get a second job so that I can assist some so that they can both finish in a reasonable amount of time without too much debt or hours on a side job. Thankfully, we can work together to find the best solutions out there! I think it can be a team effort where students learn responsibility but parents are also there to support some with expenses so outrageous right now for college.

          • CCB says

            If they could get into Harvard, Princeton, Yale or Columbia University you would end up only paying about $10,000 a year. 0-$60000 is free. $60001-$250000 is 10% of income. Your child just has to have really good grades, great SAT/ACT scores. I taught my child how to study and now he is an IVY and I am very proud of him-by the way he works at school about 10 hours a week. He taught himself how to program websites and programs the MBA school’s website.

  9. Adam says

    Thanks to blogs like this my mom isn’t helping me pay for college at all so thanks for that. My mother is in a good place to at least help me with books but won’t because I need to learn how the world works so see all of you full time McDonalds workers out there because I can’t pay for college alone, as a 19 year old with zero credit I can’t take out any loan’s. Thank you so much for your blog on teaching kids about life and the value of the dollar because now those kid’s will know now that they will be forced into working minimum wage jobs the rest of their life. Lastly loans for college, all of them require a parent to cosign so even if I had the credit to do so I couldn’t without a parent so I salute you on helping today’s and the future youth.

    • Jamie says

      Adam, I was in exactly your spot with parents who made $150,000+ who refused to pay for college. These people don’t know what they’re talking about as they obviously have not gone to school in a very long time. It’s a catch 22 situation – colleges and the government expect them to pay for you and in fact, in some states they are legally required to do so. However, it is also a good thing to learn the value of money and hard work. Don’t waste your life in minimum wage jobs thinking that it will get you anywhere – the world has changed and it won’t. I will spend the rest of my life paying of student loans thanks to my parents and hopefully you can avoid that fate.

      Here is what you do: go to a college or two that you would like to attend. Ask to speak to a professor in the discipline you want to study. Explain that your parents are unwilling to help you pay for college but that you’re extremely motivated to work in their field (know something about the professor’s research before you go!) and ask their advice about what type of jobs or volunteer work you can do that would make you a great applicant. If this person is a jerk repeat these steps until you find someone who isn’t. Send this person emails every once in a while. Stay on their radar and then apply to the school. They will remember you as an intelligent, motivated kid. If it is at all possible, volunteer to work in a lab or department of the school if it’s nearby where you live.

      If this seems unreasonable to your circumstances, try this: don’t be ordinary. Even if you DO have to work in McDonalds, make sure to do volunteer work, start a business, create your own running blog on a subject of expertise (even more helpful if it’s the subject you are interested in studying for college), learn how to do something interesting really, really well. The thinking here is first, to avoid becoming a drone who subsists day to day in a mind-numbing job as that really will kill you (take it from someone who knows), second, to stand out as a unique individual who is accomplishing something even though their life, at present, stinks, And third, it will help you stand out on college applications and maybe win you a scholarship. Good luck – and never give up!

    • Sharon says

      Oh DO stop with the false entitled melodramatics. You sound like every other spoiled narcissist who feels that their parents should have to keep paying, and take care of you long past the point of being an “adult” at age 18. Eighteen year olds want to be TREATED as “adults”, but they want none of the responsibilities of it.

      If you want to go to college, there are other ways of going–it’s just that kids nowadays don’t want to have to put the hard work in.

      You could go to the military. They have really good plans for that type of thing. There’s also going to college and working. TONS of people do it, and are all the better for it.

      So if you end up working at a fast food place–and make no mistake–it is a choice YOU have made, and you will have no one to blame for it but yourself, as a person who wants to do well will always find a way.

  10. says

    Adam, you should take your life into your own hands and do what you have to do.

    If that means waiting tables, buying used books, and applying for scholarships then do it.

    Another route is community college for your 1st 2 years which is cheaper by far than going the traditional route.

    Also, who says you have to go to college? You have other options as well.

    Don’t waste your time being bitter, go out and do something.

    • Jacey says


      I agree that Adam sounded bitter in his post, but to say “who says you have to go to college? You have other options as well”?

      There are other options, but they’re not likely to be have as high a salary(if they are salaried jobs at all), and while there are these other, albeit lower-paying jobs, maybe that’s not what he wanted to do with his life and career?

      I know for me personally, I am going to school to become a Preschool teacher. While there are many education-related jobs (such as working in daycares or afterschool programs, which I currently work in), they are not what I want to be doing with my life. All the childcare experience in the world doesn’t erase the fact that when you apply for a teaching position, they need you to have a BA.

      How would you like it if you couldn’t pay for college to do what you have always dreamed of doing in life, and somebody just told you “well you have other options”?

      Just my 2 cents.

  11. says

    What a wonderful discussion this is, and one that all parents and their kids should have. Like many things in life there is no one right answer to the question posed here it depends on the people asking the question.

  12. Renee says

    I believe it’s a parent’s responsibility to pay for their child’s education if they are able. Instead of throwing away money on useless toys and video games, save that money for your child’s tuition. Eighteen years is a long enough time to save enough to make a contribution to your child’s college education. Placing this responsibility on your child is setting them up for financial enslavement and ruin. If you don’t want to contribute to your child’s education, perhaps you shouldn’t have children.

    • says

      That’s a pretty strong statement to make. Just because a parent doesn’t contribute to a child’s education doesn’t mean they’re setting them up for enslavement and ruin. My parents didn’t contribute much to my education, but I was able to work hard and have all my school loans paid off in short order. Now of course I went to an in state school, and went to a school i could afford, so I made solid decisions on my end as well.

      Also, why is it do you think that it’s a parent’s responsibility to pay for their child’s education? I think it’s admirable if a parent can contribute something, but I also think there’s something to be said for allowing a student to pay his or her own way, and earn their own education. It can mean more when they’re using their own money. I don’t think someone is a bad parent if they can’t contribute?

      • Jamie says

        Yes, it does. Do your child a favor and speak to a financial aid counselor or two before you make this decision. We live in a nation that expects to profit greatly off of its citizens and one of the ways it does that is to charge the highest tuition on the planet – and then expect virtually everyone applying to a job to have either a college degree, a license or much, much more. There are VERY few jobs in which that is not true, and those are generally ruled by nepotism – union jobs, hospital jobs that require associates degrees, etc.)

        I agree that the student should contribute to their own education, but as the child of parents who refused to even show a W-2 form when it came time for college I can tell you that COLLEGES DON”T CARE that you are trying to teach your kid a lesson. Parents are expected to contribute up to 12% of their assets to pay for college (for income over $27,801 the EFC is $7519 + 47% of the amount over $27,801) but the child must pay 70% or more of their earnings.

        If you want to teach a child responsibility, why not help him or her pay for college (whatever amount the FAFSA expects or a reduced amount negotiated with the school) and then make your child repay you directly? You could even charge interest. Believe me, as a former 3.9 GPA. 1350 SAT student, there are very few scholarships (many require that you fall below a certain income or hold minority or foreign student status), jobs on campus go only to federal work/study students and no one particularly cares about how smart you are anymore. The world has changed, and not for the better. Tell your kid to go to a state school.

  13. Mike says

    My parents arn’t helping me at all for college and it sucks. I’m in my third year of nursing school at a state university, the workload is very large, and there are added fees such as uniforms, special exams, and computer programs to get… it is very stressful financially. i commute from home to save money and work all weekend every weekend as a CNA and all summer to get books and clothes, etc. i did receive scholarship and grant aid, but regardless i will still graduate with about 20k in loans, which is manageable. But it gets very frusterating because it feel like for all the work i do (7-day week) i have nothing to show for it, and am definately not having as much fun as my classmates (how can you when you live at home!), most of whom live on campus and do not work, or work minimally, and as a result they have more time to devote to schoolwork. But getting through regardless. 1 more year and God willing things will get easier.

  14. Anna says

    Mike I wouldn’t complain if you get to live at home and don’t have to pay rent on top of everything else. I have to do that and it really sucks. I agree that parents or the government should do more to help college students. Its a contradiction to say a high school graduate is ready support themself fully and at the same time they’re just starting out with college education. I mean then why would they still need all that college education?

  15. Clint says

    I think these days that tuition eats up a much higher percentage of one’s income than it did when I was going to college.

    Tuition, at least in the University of Wisconsin system that I attended, has been rising at twice the rate of inflation for years.

    I was able to help pay for college through decent paying factory jobs. Now all those good paying unskilled jobs are gone. In it’s place are minimum wage service jobs. Is minimum wage even keeping up with inflation?

    So expenses are rising and income is down.

    I don’t want to give my kids a free ride, I want them to take some responsibility for themselves. But I’m not going to ignore the fact that it’s going to be much more difficult for them to pay for college themselves than it was for me.

  16. says

    Thanks for the great post. You do a wonderful job of pointing out many of the issues that we as hopeful future parents are also struggling with. As much as you want to help your kids, you also want them to be aware of the cost and importance of the classes they are taking. My parents paid half of the undergraduate tuition for myself and later my sister (we both did 3 years of undergrad at state schools before pharmacy school), and let us know that our graduate education would be our responsibility. It was a system that worked well for us, and I would consider a similar idea, but I would never consider it the parent’s responsibility to contribute financially to the child’s education.

    One other thing I struggle with is whether a parent’s contribution actually affects a child’s attitude toward the education, or is it simply dependent on the child’s mind set.

    Thanks for your great work, have a great day!

  17. Steve says

    It is not a parent’s responsibility to pay for their children’s higher education. This burden was propagated in our society by financial firms and college marketing schemes. Parents should however help their kids explore options that will help them pay. For example, the active military will pay for your entire college education with at least 3 years of active service and a honorable discharge. Another point is that parents should never push college on any child. Many parents and high schools are great at “pushing” kids into college who have no business applying. Don’t fall for the hype. College does not equate to success, look all around you, it is obviously. What does equate to success is choosing a career that is specific and in-need and can’t be done by a computer or a 13 year old in India. Specific skills and education will get the jobs in the future. Help your kids do research on future in-demand careers that they may be interested in—guide them—don’t push them. A liberal arts, humanities, or business degree etc. will get you in debt and a job at your local theme park or the night manager position at your local fast food joint.

  18. Shell says

    I also graduated college in 4 years with good grades….my parents paid the bill, so I had the work ethic and drive regardelss of who was paying. I knew the value of money and that is why I chose a good state school even though I had gotten accepted into a very prestigious private school across town…..out of respect for my parents and knowing they weren’t wealthy, I didn’t want to overdurden them with the higher priced school. I am so grateful to have started out my career and marriage without brining school debt into it. I would like to find a middle ground for my kids (3) where I agree to pay for state school, if they get good grades and only for four years and also expect them to have a part time job to pay for some of the other expenses. There may be some other caveats we figure out along the way too.

  19. she's says

    I think all these people that are posting about how they shouldn’t help their kids get a better education are STUPID why would you want to throw your kids into a blind stiuation. Their kids you idots they don’t know much about responsibility of money they lived with you for 18yrs. When your old asses get crusty and can’t wipe your own asses you get thrown in a nursing home you didn’t help your kids out when they needed you,that’s for the parents who have the money for the parents that are broke and don’t want to sign financial aid papers because you too old now DONT GO TO YOUR CHILDREN FOR NOTHING AND I MEAN NOTHING YOU FIND OUT THAT YOU DONT HAVE ENOUGH TO PAY FOR YOUR “DIEABECT” MEDICATION REMEMBER YOUR CHILDREN HAS A BIG DEBT NOW BECAUSE YOU BELIEVE TO GET A BETTER EDUCATION STILL COST NO MORE 5000 DOLLARS WHICH WAS THE PRICE WHEN YOU ATTENDED COLLEGE TUITION IS HIGH AND THE GOV MAKES IT HARD BY NOT SETTING A PRICE POINT FOR THESE SCHOOLS YOU PARENTS EXPECTED THAT YOUR CHILDREN SHOULD HELP YOU WHEN YOU CAN’T HELP YOURSELF WHY WOULDN’T YOU WANT TO DO THE SAME? GIVE ME A GOOD ANSWER BESIDES THE KID LEARNS RESPONSIBILITY THEY SHOULD ALREADY KNOW THAT SKILL BEFORE LEAVING THE HOME

  20. :) says

    To She’s,

    I agree.

    The family should work together to come up with solution, even if it is a partial solution. A family may not be able to help with the whole enchilada but should assist with what they can and then help with the researching of opportunities for scholarships, grants, jobs, etc. Preplanning by the student via highschool jobs can also help. CC’s are also an option. There may be many parts to this solution.

    However flat out refusal to assist translates to a lack of moral support, and this is short sighted thinking. Moral support is very important. It is true that the student loan industry (much like the health insurance industry predicament) has attributed to/helped to fuel the rising costs of education.

    I agree with those that say to choose wisely what you study. It is true with any investment you will want to get the most for your dollar. So choose wisely a good skill. However, remember that are all types of skills. The are arguments for and against liberal arts type majors. Business is a skill though, a sustainable one at that. These days, those who can start a business and sustain themselves do not have to worry about their job being outsourced.

    Overall, society benefits from productive, educated, citizens. In the long run, parents benefit when their adult child can now contribute back to the family. And this should be the natural cycle of things.

    Nobody owes you anything in life, but outside of the gift of life, education is the one gift worth giving.

  21. Sarah says

    I think parents should help some according to their ability but I think it can be negligent for the parent to pay for everything. I am glad I was responsible for most of my own college education because I think I’d feel pretty guilty if my poor parents contributed a ton, especially since right now, I’m not even using it. I’m a stay at home mom lol. But I learned responsibility and personal ownership very young and I think that’s important. I had a high GPA and got a 50% scholarship. I took out loans, and my dad helped me by allowing me to live with him and continuing to support my living expenses and he paid for my school supplies sometimes, when loan money wouldn’t cover it. But I was grateful for what he did do because I know he did his best. Since I had a $20,000 loan, I got a job as soon as I graduated, and paid it off very quickly, which I was able to do because I got married and we had two incomes.

  22. Anne says

    I do believe and hope parents will contribute something to their children’s education. I agree, that parents should not pay the full amount for the child’s college, but at least some. I was very fortunate to be raised that school is the top priority, and I graduated the top of my high school class. My parents told me they had a set amount they were willing to give to me to help out. I was accepted into Washington University in St. Louis, and very much wanted to go there. But the amount my parents would help, would not go far at this private school. The University of Nebraska offered me a ton of scholarships since I am a Nebraska resident, and with the aid they offered and my parents’ help, I wouldn’t have to pay a penny until post-undergraduate studies came. I chose Nebraska.

    Why I say parents should help a bit, is because my old roommate and friend of 14 years, receives none from her family, She worked full-time during the school year. The stress caused her grades to drop, while her bills continued to go up. She eventually transferred back to a college in our hometown to save money. This past summer, she worked 8am-5pm at one job, and 10pm-6am at her other. I felt so terrible.

  23. Alyssa says

    I am in my “Senior Year” this year. I come from a divorced family, my Mother is a special needs teacher, and my Father works on a golf course as a Superintendent. I knew since I was 9 years old that I’d have to pay for most to all of my college tuition due to my fathers alcohol addiction. I don’t think that paying for your own schooling is a bad thing at all. It helped me through high school knowing I need good grades. I’m a straight A student, on the golf team, the way it looks right now I’ll have a golf scholarship and an academic one. I’m not going to let my money problems in my way from going to an expensive school, life’s to short to worry about how much debt you have, it’s about achieving your goals and working hard towards them.

  24. Dominique says

    As a teen mom, I worked my way through 11th and 12th grade. My parents always told me they’d pay for 1/2 of my college if I didn’t get into trouble.. After the baby they cut it down to… They’ll pay for all the needs of the child which I was very grateful for. Sure 1/2 of college would have been nice, but now I’m my second year of college, I realize, my parents only care, they pushed me in high school to make it through, my mom even quit her job to take care of MY child. Now in college I realize it’s not about the partying, it’s about supporting a family and yourself by doing something you love.

  25. Sean says

    I paid for all of my college. Here is how you do it. Get a cell, a box of sandwich bags, a digital scale, and invest about $1000 or more into weed or cocaine. College kids whose parents pay for their school love drugs…they will come to you every week and give you their parents hard earned money so that they can get high. The profit you will make from doing this will easily pay for school, a lawyer if you get caught, or just about anything…the only sad things is finding out that once you graduate it will take years and years before you will make as much money as you did in college slanging dope. If you don’t get caught or killed, which is unlikely if you only deal with rich aflunet college students you will easily make enough money to pay for school, rent, car payment, what ever. You also only need to work about 5 hours a week. A couple deals here a couple deals there…in between classes…it is simple. Once you get going…which will happen you can easily be making 500 to 2000 dollars a week. And remember rule #1 don’t get high off your own supply.

  26. lolsean says

    lol I’m laughing at sean because his comment is hilarious and while I know he isn’t serious. A ton of kids are doing this already. I would NEVER stoop so low or put my ass on the line like that. I’d rather be in debt. But yes.. college tuition rises 9% every two years. Working/middle class families can’t afford or are STRUGGLING to be able to afford to go to school. I think the whole ‘get a job’ angle is bullshit. Most kids HAVE jobs, are you kidding? I know I do. But guess what? you’re not going to get any worthwhile high paying jobs until you have a degree. My mom doesn’t even make enough to cover what my college tuition costs me and I, the girl who so far has a year and change of college education and a high school diploma, should? that right there is DELUSIONAL. and you people know it. Face it you’re just selfish. I am paying my loans but my mother had to cosign. I did get grants and scholarships as well. Do you know how many girls have sugar daddies these days to pay for expenses? on top of jobs? it’s ridiculous.. you have no idea what some of your kids will be resorting to because their parents were too damned selfish to help them. you’d rather your kid suffer to pay of college debt ranging anywhere from 10-200 grand, than help them out the last few years of your life (including years, you’ll be looking at THEM to help YOU)

    I just can’t with this crowd. I know college tuition is going to be astronomical if and when I have kids. and honestly if at that point I don’t have the sort of income that can allow me to assist them. I’m NOT going to have kids. Parenting does not end at eighteen. Where did you get that idea? Someone pointed out that parental help is just idea that’s sold to you. what do you think the cliched ’18’ is an adult idea came from? it’s not a cake. You don’t put a timer on someone and assume they’re ready when it goes off. You parent even when your kids have kids of their own. And honestly if you guys take it as such a burdern to help your kids. I feel really bad for them. Because they’ve never had REAL parents. yes i said it.

    You had a kid for what reason? because it’s just something people DO at a certain age? or because you reached a point in your life when you wanted to help someone grow, and cultivate themselves into a successful, loved, supported and compassionate human being? because the latter is the only reason anyone should have kids. and if you’re unprepared to help put on a condom, take the pill and stop having children.

  27. LaughingAtItAll says

    My name suggests my overall reaction to not only the article, but to many of the comments.

    I will consent that good points have been made by both sides (and just as often, some random, ill-thought out comments were made as well).

    In support of Chris, I will concede to his points that children who have to learn the “value of the dollar” the “hard way” will certainly teach them about responsibility.

    In support of the others, I will concede to the points that there are quite a few contradictory viewpoints in Chris and his supporters’ arguments; for instance, following a government regulation on when a child is an adult and yet that same government expecting (and actually demanding) parental tax information to be submitted so that a child (remember, when applying for FAFSA, you are supposed to do it junior/senior year, in which many of the students are not yet 18 — so by their standards, yes, “Child”) will receive varying amounts based off how much that same government is assuming parents will pay.

    I find it intriguing that I happened to stumble upon these discussions. I used my own life to see what the answer should be, instead of leaving it up to my parents to decide if they should be fronting the college bill.

    Please be patient:
    I wanted to prove that college education isn’t necessary in today’s day. I wanted to prove that I could survive on my own, that I was an “adult” as soon as I was 18 with that high school diploma. I graduated with honors, had a nice hefty collection of schools offering my family scholarships since I graduated from a fairly prestigious high school. However, I was one of those students that high school didn’t know what to do with. My parents shoved education so far down my throat, there’s a surprise I didn’t become an anarchist. So, like many of you have argued, I figured: Maybe college just isn’t for me; maybe I can find a career among my talents that I can pursue and live life my way.

    I was wrong.

    You see, I learned the value of the dollar like most of you above. I didn’t have the luxury of being PERMITTED to work during high school. (Believe me, I begged.) The only money I had saved was birthday money from relatives. So, with $500 to my name, I bought a one way ticket and off to a new place. I wasn’t able to go directly to school, clearly demonstrated by my bank account. I had to work…
    And I did. I did quite a few shady and not so shady things to make ends meet. I learned what it meant to starve (I wished I could afford ramen every night…) and I learned what it meant to live like a hobo — sleep in transit to the next job, bathe like a bird, and so forth.

    It didn’t matter how much I knew, how bright I was, my background. Every employer that I knew I was an excellent candidate for turned me down. They bluntly stated why: “You have the skills, but not the documentation we’re looking for.” There you had it, job after job turned me down b/c I didn’t have a college degree. (And please, don’t be presumptious that I only tried a few jobs… Oh no, do not let me begin to tell you just how many trips I made for employment seeking).

    At any rate, so, I figured: “Ok… maybe college is important. If only to get that piece of paper to verify I have the skills.” So, I saved what little I could..losing over 80 pounds from malnutrition in less than a year. Not to mention having new expenses I never cared about (seriously, appearance is EVERYTHING. I thought I was “cute,” cleanly dressed. But oh geez, the smiting looks of shame for not having my nails or hair neatly done…).

    Sure, I finally paid my way through various certifications and whatnot (EMT, security, medical assistant, yada yada). However, it was never enough: “Only a bachelor’s matters.”

    By today’s trend, soon it will be only a master’s matters. It does not even matter if you are a skilled artisan. You can be as skilled as you want, but if you want to make it so you can live “Comfortably” (not paycheck by paycheck as I did), it is clear you need that darn piece of paper.

    So, my parents laughed in my face, said “I TOLD YOU SO! COLLEGE MATTERS!” and wrote up a contract that I couldn’t refuse. I get to be one of those lucky few who have parents that chose my major, my classes, what school I attend, and more, b/c they pay for it. It’s not a particularly bad situation. The dehumanizing treatment I can live with, already have. (That’s a different subject all together.)

    (Thank you for your incredible patience.) In the end, I got the answer to my question: If your parents can help, I suggest you find a compromise with them. If your parents can pay for it, be ready to also submit to them. I do not understand
    how students go to college, on their parents’ ticket, and pick their own study. However, such is life.

    I, for one, will completely pay for my children’s education. There are far more many ways to teach them responsibility, money management, and the like than trying to let them swim against the tide that is our failing American education system.

  28. says

    I don’t have a college degree, and I’m making a fantastic income right now. My father doesn’t have a college degree, and he’s making a fantastic income.

    The idea that you need a degree to make money is absolutely wrong. You need to be rational, hard working, professional, and the kind of employee that makes your employer wish everyone was like you.

    I have yet to meet anyone that comes close to that who is under the age of 30. There’s a reason my generation can’t make money. We’re intellectually and professionally lazy — especially off the clock.

  29. LaughingAtItAll says

    Oh dear Shaun,

    I had a figured you’d respond. You see, I am very rational, hard working, professional, and my resume screams that they wish I only had a college degree to go along with my skills.

    I completely agree that the vast majority of our generation are intellectually and professionally lazy (I attend college now, my classmates provide me ample evidence.)

    However, you are too broad when you say “the idea that you need a degree to make money is absolutely wrong.” I made money (obviously, had a variety of jobs that was sufficient to pay rent, utilities, etc); but, I am not fabricating the rejections b/c of the lack of that piece of paper.

    I applaud you on being one of the very few (you are a rare specimen and you know it; evidenced by how rare you are for your attributes already) that are able to get a job with a great income and without that cursed paper.

    However, sad to say, not all of America agrees with you. I wish it was the way you described it. Our country would be much better off if the “selection upon pedigree schools” was erased and people were hired more on talent and work ethic than the name on their diploma. Alas, that definitely is not the case for the expansive majority of the United States. If I was wrong on this notion, this entire discussion wouldn’t even take place since the pressure to become better workers than intellectuals would be the priority and not the other way around.

    It wouldn’t matter if parents opted to choose to pay for college or not, it’d be a luxury.

  30. says

    Of course some jobs aren’t open to you without a degree — but the idea that you can’t make money without a degree is, again, absurd. It just takes several years of obsessing over being the best low-waged worker possible and learning everything your superiors know.

    Go to any walmart and get a job working there.

    If you think that’s beneath you (most college students roll their eyes when I mention walmart. They’re poor people who are elitists. Only in America.), then that’s the reason you can’t make money without a degree.

  31. Michelle says

    Our son is at a small community college about 2 hours away from home which happens to have a dorm on campus. It’s about 1/3 the cost of a state university, and well within our budget. Unfortunately, we used up what we’d saved for our son’s college while my husband was unemployed from 2007-2008. By the time my son started applying for grants, my husband was employed again, so we didn’t qualify for grants. (That figures!) Anyway, God restored us, and now we’re able to pay. I’ve read the comments that paying for college makes a person more responsible at an earlier age and teaches them the value of a dollar, but I have to disagree. Working is always a good thing, but working while going to college can be detrimental, academically speaking.
    If you want to help your child out more, ask God for the means to do so. He is able!

  32. says

    You and a lot of other people have made it through college without any support from your parents, and that’s impressive. But hold on a minute. Are you saying that, if your parents were millionaires, you would still rather they hadn’t paid for your tuition? Are you saying that you wouldn’t pay your kids’ tuition, even if you were rich? This is a religious website, how can you possibly consider yourself a good person when you have that attitude?

    Consider this: there are only so many jobs to go around. If every single college student had to work a job, or two jobs, even if they had rich parents, that would make it harder to get a job for the students with poor parents who can’t afford to help them out. The more students from wealthy families who don’t work, the more jobs are available to the students who ACTUALLY NEED THEM.

    What people like you, people with the “everyone should EARN every dollar the spend” attitude don’t understand is that the more people with families who help them out, THE LOWER THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE. The more rich people who are out of the workforce, the more jobs will be available to people who NEED them.

    As a Christian, you believe in the rich helping the poor, right? Well what better way for rich parents to help the poor than by paying for their children’s living expenses in college so there will be more jobs available to students from poor families?

  33. says

    I’m not sure if this was directed to me, but yes, I would turn it down. I turned down all sorts of charity when I was poor and in college.

    If you’re a kid, you “need” the job, even if you could find a way to live off charity otherwise. Come on.

    And some people not working doesn’t mean the unemployment rate changes over the long-term. You’re forgetting that the purpose of jobs is economic growth — that means it’s not about filling “job slots”, because people working are freeing up capital for other stuff — more productive stuff.

  34. Woodrow says

    Ok, well I re-read your post and I noticed that you said your parents co-signed loans. I don’t have any issues with parents co-signing loans even if they are rich, although personally if I was rich I would just write the check for tuition. The problem is that some people don’t have that option, their parents won’t co-sign. My tuition was actually paid by grants and by loans from the government, which didn’t require a co-signer, so my parents weren’t contributing anything to my education at all…I’m not upset about it but if they were millionaires I would certainly have been wondering what was going through their heads. Basically I misunderstood you there, if parents want to co-sign instead of pay then that’s not necessarily evil.

    As far as jobs go, it varies region by region. Speaking from experience, I went to school in a California beach town and I remember that jobs were findable, but sometimes it would take a while. Sometimes a student looking very hard for work would go for months before finally finding something. If anyone could just raise their hand and get a job then I could understand the “let everyone fend for themselves” attitude, but even the best and most qualified workers sometimes go for long stretches without employment. It’s good for them to have support available when work isn’t. In an ideal world, every student (or person for that matter) who wanted a job could get one, but unfortunately that just isn’t the case.

  35. CR says

    I am a college student at a local state school. I am also the youngest of six children, and my parents have helped each of us through school. I understand that I am incredibly lucky to have parents with the means to help support me while I’m pursuing an undergraduate degree, and my dependence on them is something I feel a great deal of guilt about. I have a neurological disorder that suppresses my immune system and makes it difficult for me to work. This semester alone I have had mono, strep throat, tonsillitis, multiple sinus infections, and recently broke my arm – I could not have managed these illnesses and a full course load if I were still working. I had a job in fast food that I had to quit due to illness and scheduling conflicts with class, but I plan to work next semester and contribute to the costs I am accumulating. I do not value my education less because my parents are paying for it. I actually value my education more because I understand the sacrifices they are making to send me to school. My parents raised me to be appreciative, understanding, and respectful – why would those traits suddenly vanish because they were generous enough to help me? I love my parents and hope to one day be in a position to financially support them myself. They’re such amazing people, they really do deserve to be taken care of in the same way they’ve cared for all of their children.

  36. zac gosteli says

    I am paying for all of my own college. I am 23 and haven’t lived at home since I was 18. I have no problem paying for school myself, but it is almost impossible. I am still considered a dependent, so after my measly loan pays for my classes I have about 230 bucks left for books, fees, food, rent etc….. My parents contribute nothing, and no other aid is available to me through the school due to my parents (divorced and remarried) incomes. The school takes none of this into consideration and gives me the same amount of loans as they would someone living at home rent free. FAFSA is a broken system. Too many people took advantage of it in the past, now they screw everyone who is under 24 and trying to pay for school on their own.

  37. Savannah says

    The way the system works, parents are EXPECTED to contribute. I moved out of my mom’s house one month before my high school graduation and lived homeless because my mom would not give me her tax information to fill out my FAFSA. Since I was homeless, I was able to qualify for a Pell Grant and subsidized loans, which saved my life. I am not saying that it is a parent’s responsibility to pay for their kid’s tuition, but it is unfortunate that the FAFSA assumes that some kids will be assisted by their parents. My boyfriend, for example, could not qualify for government financial aid because his parents made $100K+. They were unable to help him with college because, through outrageous spending ,they had accumulated over $100K+ in credit card debt. Luckily, my boyfriend managed to get a FULL SCHOLARSHP. Our parents have not put a dime in for our educations and you know what… It has made us all the more responsible. We are financially independant and do not *expect* things from our parents like so many of our peers. Honestly, last week I had a friend complain to me about how his parents would only pay half of his tuition this semester because he failed a class last semester and also got a D in another class. It is sickening.

  38. Pro12 says

    Are you guys really advising that parents ditch your children? What kind of article is this? Why would you make someones life harder then it is. You Americans work your children to the core and make them beg even for a piece of candy then try to cover it up by saying that its to teach them and help them mature.

    This article makes me rofl

  39. Renee says

    My parents told me that it was up to me to get into college and pay for it. They also told me that I was not allowed to go into any debt for my schooling. I got offered a full scholarship at a state school and took it. I wanted to go to another college, but under my parents’ rules, I wasn’t able. That angered me for quite a while–their refusal to put in their finances but their belief that they could still be in charge of mine. And it’s not that my parents had no resources—they felt that remodeling their house was a better way to spend their money. And that’s exactly what they did while I was in school. I was 18 and they didn’t have to support me anymore. Now they could have fun with their money! They didn’t bother to visit me once at school or to call me. I still have hurt from their lack of support, financial but mostly emotional (from the time I was in college as well as long before that). But I graduated with a B.A. and am happy that I did. In contrast, my husband came from a family who fully paid for his college. He was not a great test-taker, so getting into college was a little difficult for him. But when it came to actual college work in his field (software developing), he really impressed his professors. He has been in the workforce for over 10 years now and has a great job. However, he never could have gotten there without the degree that employers deem so important. We married right after college and a year later we had our first child. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to be able to start life without debt…so for that, I do thank his parents and mine. I have been able to stay home with our children and life is pretty calm. If we had begun with debt, things would have been (and probably still would be) much more complicated.

    And we did not grow up to be financially challenged individuals. The idea that paying for college is the way to financial responsibility…I don’t agree with that. We believe in living simply and paying for the things that are worth the most value to us. We live in a small house and save half of our income…so that our children can go to college someday, can hopefully take an exchange program class and live abroad for a semester, and so we can have enough saved for our retirement to not be a financial burden for them. I don’t think it’s fair for parents to expect their children to figure everything out for themselves when they are 18 years of age (really 15, if you think about when kids have to start prepping for college). If my husband had been in my family, I don’t know what would have happened to him. He became a well-earning adult, but he needed help to get there. His parents made the right sacrifices and I hope we will do the same. Do your kids need to live in a big house? Be escorted in a minivan instead of a sedan? Have a playset in the backyard when you can walk or drive to a nearby park? Do you and/or your kids need to wear fashionable clothes? During parenting, there are so many choices to make along the way. If you have no money, that’s one thing. But if you do, realize that every dollar spent shows where your priorities lie. And I really think that intangibles are more important than material things. Your children did not asked to be born. You chose to have them, and it’s up to you to help them make a good start when they leave the nest.

    • KM says

      Renee you are a sweetheart.
      I would like to say though some people are spoiled and act spoiled, however i believe it isn’t what you give to your children it is how you give it to them. College education is become more of a necessity every day and the cost grows exponentially. Parents need to put an emphasis on education and also parents need to do the best to give the children good insight on what to expect. It isn’t really in our culture to care so much about education and it is sad. If you do your best to teach a child the value of money and the sacrifice that is made to give them anything they will appreciate it.
      Maybe I was an odd child but I never really had any talents so I enjoyed getting good grades, my parents never really seemed to care nor did they really actually support it. I chose my school on cost because I didn’t want to get out with a lot of debt. My total schooling costs will probably be around 50k, parents giving me about 14k and the rest being made up by whatever money i could make during the summer and school year and loans I took out. I appreciate every dollar I receive from my parents and I am always concerned about money; even when it isn’t mine. I look for the best way to receive the most utility out of given dollar. I don’t like waste.
      My guidance counselors in high school were also not very good. Had someone told me “if you go to a more expensive (and yes better) state school, you would receive more financial aid,” even if this was aid was in the form of loans, I would have chose UW Madison instead or considered transferring because their finance program is a lot better than the one where I am at and it is notable. Now I just pray I don’t end up selling insurance or working at a bank for the rest of my life. I do not want to name my school but a lot of low income family students come here and they seem to simplify a lot of things. Granted I do have some very good professors.
      Sorry to stray. I would say judge your child as early as you can. Not all children are the same. Some are born frugal (hesitant and reserved) and others not so much. Do your best to teach your children the value of the dollar but when they exhibit behavior that shows they understand the value and sacrifice of money don’t keep shoving it down their throats. What upsets is me is that I come from two families and each family just looks at what their parents did and assumes that is the right way to go. I disagree and what is interesting is one family will try to do things to teach me the value of money when I already get it, yet they had half of their schooling paid for. Now that I talk to them about my finance a little more they actually seem to understand that I am financially aware and they have stopped doing so.
      —-Times change, they keep changing and they are doing it faster and faster. Do not look only to the past for answers but from your experiences…. Taking either side with your children could end in success or failure; their are plenty of other variables.

      • KM says

        I also received some scholarships out of high school and some very small ones in college (1500 total in college, 5 or 700 from high school), which went directly to school……

  40. KM says

    I was always told it isn’t what you know but what you do. So I continued with a boring and easy marketing major for awhile. After selling insurance for one summer I quickly switched to finance since it was the closest thing I could do. It is important to “do” things, but knowing things is the first step depending on what you want to do. I do not take these finance classes to just get a degree I would love for them to be the bases for the things I will have to do at my real job (even though they are just the fundamentals). Another thing is, is that none of my family that went to college can connect with me going to college now. They only cared about passing, I care about learning and understanding. They got C’s, I get A’s and B’s. If I honestly tried to get a C I would learn nothing, I either grasp most of it or none of it.. I like the article but it is very one sided, there is no one answer to this dilemma…

    • KM says

      Probably C’s and D’s because that is what they were aloud to get to pass and get a degree. Like I said, times change.

  41. Ray says

    All I did my entire life was get A’s and B’s… I believe it is a parent’s responsibility to pay for college… If you want your child to be successful, statistics have shown you will ruin their future career if you let them pay their way and “fend for themselves” while going into debt. If you have the means, take care of it… It is not only selfish, but bad to think the way you are thinking…. Rules to keep it paid are fair, as long as they are fair…

    PS I had over 12k in scholarships and my only regret was not going to a better school than the state system in CA….

  42. says

    I think you have a fascinating point with “not paying for college can help them,’ and there’s a lot of truth to that. In general I think it’s nice, if parents can afford it, if they help their children significantly through their college years. But that goes with a caveat: the child’s performance must be acceptable, and behavior appropriate. And then there’s the question of what to do if the child chooses a way-out major. I’ve been dealing with these issues in a 3-part series entitled “When College is A Means To No End: Financial Responsibility For a Murky Future,” starting at, and am very interested in feedback from people who’ve gone through the experience, and believe strongly one way or another. As you suggest, there does need to be a happy medium–but finding that can be terribly elusive!

  43. M. McCoy says

    There is no parent in the world who wouldn’t gladly pay if they had it but for many families such as mine, there was no “college fund” for my kids-there was a “roof over your head fund” & a “food on the table fund”. Now that the age for students to be able to take their own loans is 24, many parents (such as myself) are forced to apply for Parent Plus loans from the Government which has me so deep in debt and I’ll be in my seventies before it’s paid. What about us, the low income families? I could not get approved for a house loan but have $73,000 in Parent Plus loans so far and the school tells my kids if I don’t apply for a loan, they must pack their belongings and not return from breaks until they have a means to pay. I’ve started a petition to lower the age back to 18 so kids don’t have to be threatened with “eviction” and parents don’t spend the rest of their days paying off their children’s education.

  44. Jamie says

    I like that. No indeed, it’s not a cake and it’s bizarre to believe that a child is simply a legal obligation to be shed at age 18. Ding! Child’s done! This young adult is going to resort to some pretty drastic actions when they realize that everyone they know is going to have a future and that theirs is in the hands of an 18 year old kid who knows nothing of the law, the job market, how to network, or how to live on their own.

    The federal government and the colleges expect parents to make the FAFSA contribution toward their child’s educational costs. If the parents are divorced or separated the courts can legally order tuition as a form of child support until that child graduates or turns 21. Is it fair that these entities expect that parents should pay the lions share of college? NO, of course it isn’t! In a rational world, an 18 year old adult would be sent their own bill and colleges would have to reduce their costs to reflect the lower income range of young adults. In this world, the government feeds off its citizens and it wants you for dinner.

    Some advice – talk to your children about the costs and responsibilities of college education from the time they’re young. Tell them you’re not rich and that they should work hard to explore their interests, develop skills and hobbies and maybe even start their own small business in order to figure out what they truly want to do with their lives. Some will be lucky and be able to get their start as an entrepeneur (if the government hasn’t criminalized that outright by then. You guessed it, I’m a bitter small business owner!) or through community college. Others will have to go on to university and then state schools should work. Just remember that they will have to contribute 70% or more of any earnings they may have, so encouraging them to work more will just add on to the amount they have to pay. Sigh. Gotta love progress.

  45. Sandra says

    I truly believe that we should try to pay forward the blessings we have received.

    I grew up in a middle class family and my parents scrimped and saved to put me through a private college. Because I graduated debt free, I was able to start saving my money from day one. That is thanks to my parents love and dedication. Therefore, I believe I would be squandering the blessings they passed to me if I didn’t also pass this down to my kids. I have saved enough money to put my two kids through private school, and I have taught that they should do the same. Pay it forward!

  46. loulou says

    I am shocked at the number of people who are upset about this article. The author never stated that the parents should not pay for their children’s education. He stated they shouldn’t pay for all of it. Many kids today are led to believe they have an entitlement to post secondary education and that mommy and daddy have a large stash of money hidden in the bank machine in the local mall. They don’t realize that it is hard these days for many parents to put away enough money to pay for their education in it’s entirety and still be able to live and save for their retirement. Many careers that require a post graduate or post doctorate degree can cost 2 or 3 hundred thousand dollars if you have to leave home to go to school. Many parents just can’t afford to pay this, especially if they have more than one child wanting to go to post secondary school. Because of the false sense of entitlement, many kids think they should go to school take program of study where they may not succeed or where there is no demand for their skills and waste their time and the investment made by their parents. If the kids are responsible for a large portion of the cost of their own education perhaps they will choose a field in which they will work hard for to pay for it themselves or will succeed in and be able to pay off their student loans.

  47. Brenda says

    I agree with Loulou in that I think a lot of people really didn’t understand what the author was saying and their responses reflect that. I totally agree with the author that in order for a college education to be meaningful for the child, they need to have a vested interest in their future education. This can be a financial interest or an academic interest or maybe just a psychological interest. It depends on the family finances, the abilities of the child or that child’s emotional intelligence. It is not the same for everyone.

    We began openly sharing with our children in elementary school that it was our desire for them to attend college after they graduated. That we would do everything in our power financially to help them achieve that goal, but they needed to match those efforts by putting everything they had academically into the same goal, thus opening the door for academic based scholarships, in the event we didn’t have the funds necessary to help them. Behind the scenes we prayed for our children and we prayed for our ability to save the necessary funds to secure their education. One of our greatest pleasures will be to help our children graduate college knowing that they will not be saddled with an overwhelming debt. My husband and I are debt free, thanks to the long ago advice from the Larry Burkett’s Christian Financial Concepts program on Moody Radio out of Chicago, and we are so thankful to assist our children through their continued education.

    I believe it should be the desire of a parent’s heart to help their children to secure an understanding of finances and debt, especially during those ugly “selfish and entitled” teen years. My son is graduating high school and has applied for numerous scholarships. He is on the cusp of a full tuition scholarship to a neighboring out of state university, a school that has already offered him a half tuition scholarship in Civil Engineering. We assisted our son by getting him into ACT prep classes and he took the ACT seven times ( not including 3 full practice tests) until he earned a 32. He started at a 26. It was a difficult and timely task for ALL of us, but in the end HE reaped the rewards for his hard work. He was encouraged to take as many Advanced Placement classes as possible and has an A/B average in those. We encouraged him to get involved in service to his community by volunteering in different organizations. We REQUIRED him to get a summer job to pay for his portion of his auto insurance bill. He is REQUIRED to do weekly chores in our home and is compensated monetarily if they are done during a specified time frame. If they are not done, he doesn’t get paid. It has been a long a difficult road to reach the point that we are at; getting ready to see him graduate, with honors. We have shared many tears, arguments, love and prayers all through his teenage life helping him attain these goals. That being said, my son also knows that we will not fund his education at a university beyond the first semester if he does not produce the grades. We will not pay for a 4 year party. At that time, he is welcome to move back home and get a job and we will pay for classes at the local community college.

    In the end it is all about communicating with your teen early on, almost during the time they are still playing with legos and star wars figures, how the real world works, how finances work and what college is all about and what it will take to get there. Every child is different and has different skills and abilities so every path will be different.

    As an end note, my heart goes out to those students who have posted here that were not supported by their parents financially or emotionally. I’m sure it is a difficult time for all of you, but you will only be made stronger by the difficulties you face. My prayers are with you to make good financial decisions and to keep strong during your path in life.

  48. Mom of two says

    I am a parent that had every intention of helping my daughter go to college financially. The first year she made unauthorized charges on my credit card by taking it our of my purse – so no money the first year. She is in her second year at an out of state school – so OOS tuition is killing her. Her dad took out a Parent loan last year, but cannot do one for her this year. I recently had a conversation with her about how much I planned to contribute, and was disrespected and interrupted like you would not believe. I cannot open my wallet to pay for the college of someone who treats me like dirt – but I would like to hear comments from college age posters, how would you handle this as a parent?

    • says

      Hello “Mom of Two”,

      Before I respond to your post I wanted to introduce myself, My name is Brandon and I am currently 20 years in my sophomore year at a California University majoring in Computer Science.

      To me it sounds like your relationship with your daughter has been troubled from the start. Honestly, I have a good relationship with both of my parents so I can not relate directly, but I assume what you both need to do is settle your differences. Consider being in her shoes, she made a mistake, a stupid mistake, and you punished her in a way that probably made her think of you as the worst person in the world, hence the attitude she is pulling.

      Please do not take offense to what I am about to say; to put it plainly I think you both screwed up. First your daughter did a very immature and frankly illegal thing by making unauthorized charges on your credit card, and the way you handled the situation was very poorly as well. The way I see it, and probably how your daughter sees it is that by not helping her pay for college you wanted nothing to do with her and in your own way said screw you now you’re on your own; I realize that’s probably not what you meant.

      Anyways the only solution I see is you have to clear the air with her, admit that the way you handled the situation was wrong and apologize. But make sure she knows that she betrayed your trust and it was not something you could just let go un-punished. Hopefully you both have heart to forgive and you can mend your relationship, if you can then you can discuss details about college finances.

      I would be curious to hear about how all of this plays out; and if you need any help with a third neutral parties opinion on how to handle all the college finances feel free to email me.


  49. says

    I think that a good balance is needed between what you can contribute and what your kids contribute to their college education. Being in college myself, I have very strong opinions on this topic. First off, for me personally, my total cost per year for college, which includes room and board = ~$18,000. This cost is for a public California University, and not a UC, only a CSU, the UC’s are more expensive.

    Considering I went straight into a 4 year University and do not work during the school year, only during the summer, my max income per year on my $12.50/hour job would be $6000 before taxes. Personally, I do not believe you should have to work during the actual school year; I am in an engineering major and most of my time is taken up by classes, studying, being involved within the school, and no I do not party at all. As you can see, $6000 is a little bit shy of the $18,000 cost to attend.

    In regards to grants and scholarships; I was an average student in high school with a 3.3 gpa and got an average SAT score at 1600. Being a white student from a family that made an alright income, grants and scholarships are practically non-existent. So that leaves me with a $12,000 deficit that has to be somehow made up.

    If you think forcing your child to work throughout the school year “promotes responsibility” or “gives you a better work ethic” then you might just be crazy. I feel parents just tell themselves that so they can sleep at night.

    My solutions for this $12,000 deficit would be if the parents have the extra money then they should contribute somehow, even it is just by loaning their kids the money with no interest and expect it back within an agreed amount of time. If the parents cannot afford the cost or only some of it, then the next best option, and also what I personally do, is take the $5000 education loan @ 3.86% that the federal government guarantees to everyone that fills out the FAFSA, and cover the rest with what ever is the next lowest interest rate educational loan you can find.

    If you think burdening your child with the full cost of college is the right thing to do, I feel like you are simply being ignorant to the facts, most likely you probably do not even know the facts since most likely you went to college decades ago. Do your child and yourself a favor and actually sit down and have a conversation about what each is expecting, what each of you can and are able to pay, and how you can cover the cost together.

    Please do not think that every college student is just there to drink, party, and do drugs, that’s just not true.

  50. Bob Lawn says

    2 of my children are in expensive colleges. It simply isn’t feasible to ask them to mortgage their future for an undergraduate degree. College costs almost 3x the going rate 30 years ago (inflation-adjusted)
    Imagine paying for three college tuitions at the age of 19. That is the decision placed before today’s college-capable young adults. Parents viewing this dilemma through the $ prism of their youth are in for a rude awakening, as the tuition equation has minimized the valuable ideals of self -sufficiency as a significantly legitimate 2015 tuition solution.

  51. Bob says

    I say the way kids are now days, it’s no wonder the parents don’t want to pay for college. As soon as they’re teenagers, they get disrespectful and know everything and want you to foot the bill for it. They want to be treated like adults and will spare no expense making sure you know that. On the other hand, they don’t want the responsibility of being treated like an adult. Well you can’t have it both ways. It’s kind of like the case where the 18 year old girl sued her parents to pay her rent and college tuition at her private school when she wanted to live with her boyfriend and break all the rules. Her parents said no and she moved out with her friends but wanted them to pay her bills. The judge said no.
    This new generation of entitled kids are always talking about how they aren’t making the same money mistakes as their parents. They are saving money for retirement and so forth but they forget to tell you that they live at home until they are 40 letting Mom and Dad foot the bill, pay for college and cell phones and pay for groceries. You are an adult when you are 18 as you keep reminding us so go act like one. No one said it was going to be easy. If they parents can afford it and the kid is respectful, they could put up some of the money but to say that you are going to be a professional student and take 6 years getting a 4 year degree while you party with your friends should be your problem. I have no respect for children, grown or not who do not want to go by the rules of the house. I don’t want to hear that you are an adult and will do what you please because if that’s the case, go move out and act like one and pay your own way like adults do. In the mean time, remember who’s footing the bills for you to have this opportunity. You don’t have a “right” to go to college and if more parents made the kids pay for most of it, the rates would come down to where it’s affordable and they wouldn’t be getting 6 year degrees in art appreciation that they will never be able to use for a job.

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