Should Parents Pay For Their Kids Education?

Should parents pay for college? There are many ways to pay for college. Those of us that went to college all had different routes that we chose. Some of the ways to pay for college involve:

  • Working like a lunatic to graduate debt-free (I did this).
  • Scholarships and bursaries (I know some really smart folks that did this).
  • Student loans (very common).

Then there’s the popular question: should parents pay for college?

I wrote that article many years ago. Since then many of you guys have written it in with some insightful stuff. I wanted to share these comments with you today when it comes to the idea of finding ways to pay for college.

An anonymous reader wrote in with his answer to, should parents pay for college?

Since I was one of 7 children, I knew there was no way my parents could afford to finance a full college education for any of us. I worked from the time I was 10 to save money for college and was able to afford to pay nearly all the costs of living as well as tuition for my undergrad degree. I even earned a partial and a full scholarship for years 3 and 4 respectively.

However, my mother demanded I come home at every school break and holiday, resulting in over $3000 in travel costs that my parents paid for. Fast forward 5 years later as I was preparing to enter grad school with again, tuition all saved up, when my mother, out of the blue, demanded I pay her back for any and all financial assistance she and my dad had provided for the first degree. I argued to no avail, and finally sent of a check for $3500, feeling bullied and extorted. Needless to say it destroyed any semblance of a relationship I had with her. My advice, if you bring a kid into the world, their education and associated costs are YOUR responsiblity. If you want a care-free retirement, DON’T HAVE CHILDREN!

Ron wrote in with his views on college tuition and saving for college:

We’ve labeled “college” as a panacea for all job ailments and while it certainly does make a difference, we need to quantify that difference and compare it to what college costs.

There are all sorts of alternatives to a traditional college. virtually EVERY college (even the accredited ones) offer online courses of study, some don’t even require that you set foot on a campus. How much could a young person save by using one of these less expensive alternatives, working while studying, living at home, and graduating with the same degree as their peers? That’s the question of the day.

When you can attend (as I did) a university that will work with students like this, my experience (I have two online degrees but they say nothing about that on my transcript OR my diploma), they’re usually much cheaper that a traditional grounded college.

But if you crave the beer and pizza, the 8am classes, the greek parties, the “on your own” lifestyle (translation: very little money), then by all means go for it, but make sure you understand everything going in. And understand that mom and dad may not BE ABLE to pay for it.

Crystal was very optimistic on the help that she received from family to pay for college:

I can honestly say I have no idea where we’d be if we didn’t get help.

I would have needed $16,000 and my husband would have needed at least $30,000. If it was his money, maybe he would have worked part-time as much as me. I was working 50 hour weeks by my last semester in 3 different part-time jobs at about $5.50 an hour and he only worked during the summers. But for argument’s sake, let’s say we would have needed the same amounts that our parents helped with.

That’s $46,000 that we would have wanted to pay back before buying our home.

I’d say that we would have been about 3 years behind where we are now. We would just now be buying our home instead of being able to in 2007. We’d probably have to add 3-5 years to our early retirement goal too.

Let’s just say I truly appreciate my parents and in-laws.

Jane had some negative views on paying for college:

I will refuse to pay my kids’ college bills because I will still be paying my own college loans. I don’t believe college is the one size fits all band-aid. My husband makes 50,000 a year as a handyman. He has no school debt! Meanwhile, I’m struggling to find a job as a teacher that pays 40,000 a year and I have $115,000 in student loans. So, is college really the right financial choice? I’d have to say not for everyone. If I had known that then, I would have at least taken a year after high school to figure my life out. Attending college “undecided” is a colossal mistake. Only people who have a chosen career know whether or not they need to attend college.

I’d also like to add that my first year of college, I screwed up, but when I started footing the bill, I shaped up. I’m proud of the fact that I didn’t make my mom pay for my college because she doesn’t even have enough money to retire. I’d be angry if my children were selfish enough to dip into my retirement fund for their college.

College is a career decision made by adults who should be responsible for the costs and not just the benefits.

I can get married, have an abortion, vote, go to war, and smoke cigarettes at 18. Why shouldn’t I be responsible for both the benefits and costs of my career decision to attend college?

There are many tips for how to pay for college without parents. I’ve shared my experiences in how I managed to graduate debt free from college. I wanted to share your thoughts from the past. Should parents pay for college? I don’t think so. What do you think?

7 thoughts on “Should Parents Pay For Their Kids Education?”

  1. I’m in the middle on this one. I don’t think parents should pay for every penny of an education but nor should they put 100% of the burden on the child to pay for it themselves. I think parents should contribute (it’s a cost of having a child just like diapers, food, and toys) but by putting some of the costs on the child, it makes them work harder, get a feel for money, understand what they will be facing after college, and it is a good transition to ‘becoming an adult’, which after all is what college is all about!

  2. Should parents buy their kid a car? Should they buy them a house? They are no different from education in that they are a large capital expense that can be an investment in their future or a huge waste of time and money, depending on the actions of the receiver.

  3. I’m also kind of split on this one. While I am now finishing up my Junior year at a public, in-state University, my total cost of attendance hovers around $20k per year (Tuition, fees, and average room and board). Fortunately, my state (Texas) and many others have had or still have programs where parents can prepay tuition at the then-current rate, then the state picks up the tab a decade or more later when the kid goes to college. My parents did this, in 1995 (when I was four years old) they payed the current tuition rate for two years of community college, then two years at a public, in-state University (cost then: ~$7k, value now: ~$28k). I grew up knowing this was there, but also knowing that was the extent of parental support. Room and board, textbooks, gas, eating out, anything but tuition and fees would be self-funded. After graduating high school I started at my local community college, and finished my first two years in a year and a half, earning my associate’s degree in business administration. I transferred to a University last Fall, and still haven’t paid a dime of tuition out of pocket. However, knowing that after transferring I would also be moving out and responsible for my living expenses, I worked diligently to find a job that I could work during school. After attending a career fair, I found a company willing to allow me to work remotely part-time, and it’s paid well enough that I don’t have to kill myself working at minimum wage somewhere locally to try and make rent every month. I’ve also worked to keep my GPA above 3.75, so I qualify for a small scholarship that gets refunded to me as cash every semester, which also helps pay expenses. While my situation is unique, I think the aspects to consider are the following: Community College. No, it isn’t as fun as a big University with sports and hundreds of student organizations and parties abound, but it enabled me to finish my first two years ahead of schedule at very little cost (even if I had to pay out of pocket, tuition was $1100 a semester for 15 hours, and I lived at home). Second, Find an internship doing something relevant to your major. I found someone willing to take me on as a bookkeeper for her small business (accounting major), which led to an introduction to someone else who’s proven invaluable for contacts, advice, and mentoring as I progress through school and prepare to embark on a career. Finally, examine what it is you want to do, go to and find the average starting salary for your major/career. If you want to major in social work, then do it! Just know that you’re probably only going to earn $25-30k per year starting. Don’t borrow more than that. On the flip-side, a petroleum engineering major can look forward to $75-80k starting, and can afford to borrow more if necessary. Again, try to avoid student loans, but borrow and go for it if you’re sure you can complete all four years and will be happier in the job your degree can get you.

    1. David, seriously, when are you writing a guest post? I have nothing to add to your comment. Do you mind if I use it for an article?

  4. Haha, you should see my course and work load! Feel free to use in an article, I just happened to have ten minutes to type it out when I saw this post.

    All the best-

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