Bad College Choice by Daughter

Updated on March 01, 2013
M.C. asks from Ann Arbor, MI
57 answers

My daughter is 18. She has lived with her dad for the past 7 years. She wanted to live with him, so I turned over custody. I have had very little to do with my daughter other than visits here and there. I do buy her clothes, toiletries, her senior pics and her prom dress. Our relationship is okay. I have purposely kept my distance from her because of the drama, not to mention the lies told to me by my daughter and her dad.

So, with that background, here's the situation: My daughter is a senior in high school. She is suppose to graduate this June. She is not a good student and never has been. Basically, she failed her junior year, but somehow will graduate with her class. She misses at least one day a week of school (so I am told by her dad), and has a difficult time getting up to go to school in the morning. We live in an area where there are many colleges and universities. My daughter wants to go to a community college that is 4 hours away. There is a community college that is 10 minutes from her house. The only reason my daughter wants to go to this community college 4 hours away is because some of her friends are time! Everyone in the family has tried to talk her out of this, but she refuses to listen. The college that she wants to go to is not even a good school. Mind you, it's a community college so there are no dorms. We would have to pay for an apartment for her. My daughter doesn't even know what she will major in. The college she wants to go to --many of the classes are not transferrable to four year schools.

I refuse to give her any money. I feel this is a bad choice. I told her to get a job and figure it out on her own. Her dad is upset at me for my attitude about all of this. I told him that she is 18, an adult and I don't owe her anything.

Any advice.

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So What Happened?

Thank you to everyone who responded. Your advice and comments have been very helpful. To those who seem to think that I have nothing but utter disdain and malice toward my child--you are so sadly mistaken. I love her immensely and want what is best for her. I did not just drop her off at her dad's doorstep and erase her from my life. I have done everything I possibly could to be the best mom that I could be given the complicated circumstances of my divorce. Again, thank you for your insightful responses.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

She's 18.
Time to make her own choices and find them herself.
If you're willing to help with tuition at the closer school where she can live at home, tell her that. But honestly, she doesn't sound responsible or motivated enough to live away...yet.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I went to a community college, and it was a great starter school. A place to learn how to study, especially when you're not used to it. There is such a big change in amount of study required from high school to college and some kids aren't ready for that transition. It's worth a few classes on transfering.

That said, my father told me, if I have money to live in an apartment (instead of living at home while attending community college), then I can pay for school myself. Needless to say, I did not move in with my girlfriends.

Part of becoming an adult is to realize responsibility of money. Good luck.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I agree with you. There is a good community school close to you where she could live at home and save a lot of money. If she wants to go to the other school then she can pay for it and pay for her own apartment. If she lives at home, then I think you should help out with paying for it (the closer school).

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Springfield on

I'm shocked!!! I am absolutely stunned by your post and the responses. This is not about her college choices at all. She needs her mom. She needs you in her life. She might be 18, but she (and most 18 year olds) are far from not needing their parents in their lives. I'm 40 years old, and I still need my parents in my life. I talk to them at least once a week and visit when I can. We are forever bound.

You said, "I have purposely kept my distance from her because of the drama ... " Um, she's a teenager. Teenagers bring drama. It's in their nature. It's part of the maturing process. It is part of growing up. Sometimes I look back and remember fondly. Other times I look back and cannot believe the drama that I created completely out of the blue. Created it! And at the time I didn't even realize I was doing it! It's embarrassing now, but it's actually very normal. I say this from the perspective of a 40 year old who has been working (as a campus minister and as a teacher) with college students for 13 years. It's normal!

You also said, "I told him that she is 18, an adult and I don't owe her anything." See, I totally disagree with you here, as well. She's your daughter for life. You might decide that paying for this school is not something that you can do and you might end up not paying money towards college at this time, but please stop and reconsider that statement. She's your daughter for life. She doesn't magically stop needed her mommy just because she is 18.

She needs you in her life. I think it was a mistake for you to distance yourself. Please consider developing your relationship with her. Please consider reaching out to her. It's not too late to be the mother she really needs.

19 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

so....due to YOUR bad decisions, you screwed up her childhood and completely blew off being a mom to her, failed her time after time when she needed you most - and now that she is ill prepared for adulthood, and probably has a ton of issues to deal with, you tell her you don't owe her anything, get a job and figure it out.

i think you're right. stay clear the hell out of it.

15 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Look, if's it in a decree, or legally binding HAVE to pay. Why in earth do you think you get a say now? You've been an absentee parent. How could you even BEGIN to know what's best with her. You did NOTHING to prepare her for the world (other then show her people who are supposed to love her, can step aside and watch her flounder) and you expect her to be responsible about it.

My stomach is turning. If you have a written agreement saying you will pay for her college, you had better pay it. You are legally required to do so. You should at least honor THAT, since you have totally failed on your mental, and emotional requirement to be a mother. If you don't have an agreement, you can continue on with being the mother who isn't there. Is that what you want to hear? She's an adult, you can finally wash yourself of her.

Have you ever considered some of her bad choices, are because her mother is absent? If you were a man, these women would be ripping you apart. I'm saddened by the double standard here.

ETA: In your OWN words " I have had very little to do with my daughter other than visits here and there." I'm sorry to be so harsh, but that really doesn't sound like the best mom you can be. I'm only going off the words out of your mouth.

15 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I guess I missed the part where she begged you to be born, you obliged and thus, you don't owe her anything anymore. Your attitude amazes me. I don't know the background but this child is/was your responsibility. Despite the above, she did not ask to be born!! Didn't work out for you to have her? Well -- not her fault! The poor decisions she's making now - likely a good part your fault. She was a child, you were the adult in all this. So going forward, I would at least TRY to help here vs take your attitude. Set parameters for giving her money. For instance, she needs to maintain a certain GPA. If you don't, I wouldn't blame her if she completely writes you off and someday you'll regret it.

ETA: I don't know what went on but your last statement about "not owing her anything' is what came across so badly to me.

15 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

I have a 19 year old daughter in college and I am divorced as well.

I'm not thinking of your 18 year old confused daughter, I keep thinking of your eleven year old daughter that was permitted to move to her father's house and you did not maintain a good relationship with.

I wouldn't feel comfortable checking out and not preparing my daughter for adult life.

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

My children are young. So I guess I haven't developed this cynical viewpoint. I hope I never do. I actually want to have a good relationship with my daughters. Here's my take on this... My mother was just like you. In fact, just yesterday she informed me that she takes no credit for how I 'turned out' because she disowned me years ago and doesn't regret it. She says I have too much 'drama'. Sound familiar? You need to get off your pedestal and get on her level! So she wanted to live with her dad... You let her! And it's your choice to keep such a distance with her. If you truly think the relationship is 'okay' then you need to get the fog out of your eyes. She needs you. She needs your support. Since when is being 18 some magical number that says we no longer need our parents? My mom kicked me out at 18. Why? Because I wanted to move out. We didn't talk for years. Now, 8 years later, we still don't have a relationship. So.. If you're okay with not being in her life, then by all means, alienate her now and deem her choices as 'wrong'. But - If you want things to be better then support her. And no I don't mean financially. But help her. Guide her. Don't just write her off and say she's messing up. I started college at 24. I changed my major a year and a half in.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I think your title should read: BAD CHOICE MADE BY MOTHER
How could you let your 11 year old go and live with her dad just because she wanted too? They are too young to make those kids of decisions. Your daughter's lack of responsibility, actions and attitude is probably the result of her mother turning her back on her and not having more of a relationship with her. Teenagers create drama and they lie! That is what they do! That doesnt mean as a mother you have the right to check out early just because you want to avoid the lies and drama. Poor excuse for a mother!

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Little Rock on

I agree that she is making a bad choice and I would encourage her to do something different.

However, it sounds like you've become little more than an ATM at this point as you don't seem involved and you aren't exactly even sure what is going on - you've left it up to your ex-husband to deal with and you provide financial assistance from time to time.

So now that you want to change it up and provide guidance on a decision she's made instead of just ponying up your share - you are surprised that it didn't go over well. It shouldn't be surprising. They've been able to struggle along for years and have you just provide money (and a visit from time to time). From what you said, you don't even know how often she goes to school and you aren't even sure how she can graduate given her academic history. Should you have wanted to steer her in the right direction, you certainly could have met with the school and engaged her early to get her on the right path.

But that is all water under the bridge and you can't change it. You've sent her many messages over the years and you topped it off with "I don't owe you anything". That speaks VOLUMES....I feel bad for your daughter. I cannot imagine my mother saying that to me even NOW at 40.

I think your daughter is better off without you. I wish her dad would get her some counseling and possibly a female mentor to help her navigate this time in her life. She's making some immature decisions and stepping in to guide her now is just too late, IMO.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I can't really imagine the drama and things that have transpired to have made you so hostile to and distant from your own child but I'm going to try to assume that your reasons for your feelings are valid and that you're not as cold and unforgiving as you come across in this post. This must be painful for all of you.

Anyway...I do agree that if your child wants to go to a community college, it make no sense to pay for an off-campus apartment as that just invites trouble at such a young age. Many schools that offer room and board require that freshman live in campus housing as a way to help control their behavior a bit and impose more rules than they would have living in an off-campus apartment. Presumably parents who then later support their children moving to an off-campus apartment do so because their children have demonstrated the maturity and responsibility and judgement to be able to live completely unsupervised.

The bottom line is that you don't have to offer to cover the costs of any schooling and can put whatever strings on the money that you want. But I'm quite put off at your attitude that "I don't owe her anything." Really? You really don't feel some responsibility to help give her a good start in life? Do you really think your job as a parent is done? If you do, then I feel sorry for both of you. Sounds like you quit on her a long time ago, which is a shame.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

On the bright side, at least she wants to go to college. And community college is the least expensive choice she could be making, right? From the sounds of things, she is going to need to do some pretty extensive remedial work in order to even attempt to apply to a 4-year college. She may end up needing 3 years of work at a community college before transferring. And that's okay. Graduating at all will be a good thing.

I would suggest that you tell her you'll pay her tuition, but she must maintain a passing GPA, and that her GPA must increase over time. For instance, she needs to maintain a 2.0 her first semester, and once she achieves that, a 2.5 the next semester. The reason I suggest that is that obviously she has some challenges with getting to class in the first place, and with her current grades, she may need some work on learning study skills. But once she masters those, her grades can and should continue to improve.

I don't think you should just walk away. So what if she wants to go to school with her friends? For kids who have never been away from home, going off to college is scary. And removing her from her current environment can only help, to my mind.

She should definitely get a part-time job to help pay her expenses, and she should be able to get an apartment with her friends to split those expenses. Perhaps she can pay her own rent, if you can help with tuition and books.

Mom, she didn't do so well in high school, and it sounds like you and dad didn't really hold her feet to the fire. That's in the past now, and now it's time to help her to get her life in order. If she doesn't get a college degree, she's going to have a hard time supporting herself in today's economy. Instead of judging her, help her. You're her mom. She needs you.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Sounds like you're telling my story. My son 19, just 'lost interest' in Clemson for the 2nd time in one year.
I have an old post on here about college expenses and who is responsible for paying. My son has never lifted a finger to pay for anything, his mother insists that it is solely the parents responsibility, and THAT is why she is out $6000 she paid up front this semester and my son was sitting in her living room last night, 2 hrs from Clemson "not interested" in school as he tells it.
Your daughters education is NOT your responsibility. My .02

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answers from Chicago on

My older brother, my cousin, and 2 of their friends all went to a far-off community college, and all 4 failed out.

But, it was on their own dimes. None of us had parents who were in any position to pay for our college educations. My parents told us that the most financial support they could give us during college was to let us live at home for free. But, that's the best they could do for us.

If I were in your shoes, and I were in a position to be able to help out financially, I'd say that you'd help out with tuition if she stays local, but if she chooses to go far off, well, you'll help her fill out her FAFSA forms, and she'll need to get a job to help bridge the gap.

ETA: I'm also a bit distrubed by the apparent animosity. Whatever you do, do it with love, and make sure she knows that you love her. Having a mere financial relationship is hardly the kind of relationship any child deserves to have with their mother, regardless of the past.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I'm with you...I don't see any reason to fund what is probably a bad idea. Stick to your guns and tell your daughter that she can either go to school close to home, which you can better afford, or if she's going to insist on going to this other school, she needs to figure out how to pay for it. Or tell Dad that he can contribute if he wants to but you feel that maybe she needs to learn some things the hard way, and start taking responsibility for the adult choices she's going to be making the rest of her life. She also needs to realize that whatever was causing her to fail in high school, she needs to turn around for college, since no place is going to just let her keep failing - they will kick her out eventually if she can't keep up. She may need extra tutoring, or she just may need a serious wake-up call and decide to take her studies more seriously.

ETA: I can't believe all the people who are giving you flack for letting her go live with her dad. I'm sure it wasn't a hasty or easy decision, and that you were doing what you felt was best for everyone at the time. Sometimes if two people just can't seem to get along, and are constantly butting heads, some space is needed - even if it is between a parent and a headstrong child. If you feel that you guys still have bad feelings between you, perhaps some family counseling is in order. Bottom line is, you didn't "abandon" her or cut her from your life, you are still there for her now, but that doesn't mean you are committed to financing some poor decisions if she's not going to be responsible for them. I have the feeling too that if it was a SON that had decided to go live with his father, it would be perceived differently than it being a daughter.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Charleston on

You are 100% right in your refusal of money. She has not proven herself responsible or deserving of your financial support. Let her figure it out on her own and get a job to pay for her apartment and classes. Maybe then she will finally wake up and realize she isn't mature enough for this. If you cave, you're enabling her to be dependent on you for everything, and you know deep down she will only go there and fail. Why waste your precious money on that? She needs to be taught a tough love lesson unfortunately. If Daddy has money to burn, that's his problem. Good luck!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I don't know what has transpired between you and your daughter and ex, but I like how accusatory people are about something that you're not even asking. None of us can possibly know why your relationship with your daughter is this way or have a right to give an opinion about how much or how little you should be in your daughter's life.

To your question~ I am with you. She's 18. You don't HAVE to give her money. In my family if we wanted to live at home past the age of 18 we had a job and paid rent. My parents didn't have the money to pay for college or an apt for us if we chose to go to school, so it was up to us to apply for financial aid and work to pay for living expenses.

I your case, it doesn't sound like your daughter is really that interested in applying herself, which is not unusual for many kids who start college right out of high school. A lot of times they want to be away from home, have the college experience, be with friends etc... Personally she would have to show some interest in doing well in school before I would be paying for anything. In these situations depending on the attitude of the child, you can give until the cows come home and it won't help their grades or their success.

Good luck~

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I think you owe your daughter a lot, considering the story you've told. While I agree that maybe the distant college isn't the best choice, in the interest of supporting her, I would say that I would contribute towards her education if:
1) she keeps a 2.5 GPA or higher and 2) she goes to a therapist, because it sounds to me like perhaps she's depressed and/or acting out because of the instability in her life (not being able to get up in the morning is a classic symptom). She could use someone to talk to who isn't judgemental.

You could also make the support a set amount (for example, the amount that would cover the tuition at the local community college), and if she decides to go away she might have to get a job in addition to what you contribute. That way she is the one that takes on the extra expense of going away - but you are still supporting her.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

Who says you have to pay anything for college? Your daughter can pay her own way. She's 18 years old. She can work part time and get roommates. She can apply for grants and scholarships. She can create a budget and see what things are going to cost her even with grants and scholarships away home versus closer to home.

Here's a link to F.A.F.S.A. (Free Application for Federal Student Aid):

Otherwise, well... it's just a mistake she's going to have to learn on her own. With her own money. If her father wants to throw money into the pit, that's up to him, but honestly I don't understand this idea that people have now that parents MUST pay for their childrens' college and the child is somehow owed the money.

No, they're not. College is a privilege, not a right. No matter how you look at it, it's a privilege. When I attended college not all that long ago, I never ever expected my parents to pay my way. Neither did my husband. Neither did any of our college friends. No one I knew, rich or poor, had their parents pay for their college. We ALL paid our own way through grants, scholarships, and jobs. Some of us had a little money in the bank from growing up to help pay for books or a semester or two, but that was it.

This whole thing about being shocked when parents expect their child to get a job to figure it out? THAT shocks me. My experience over the past 30+ years is that college students don't really appreciate their education until they're responsible for it. A C that your parents paid for? Oh well. A C that you paid for? Might as well be an F and so you work your tail off for a far better grade.

So. I agree with the original poster.

But I'm going to say that this may be a mistake that she just has to make on her own.

EDIT: I'm shocked and disgusted at those dressing the OP down for her take on this situation, and for the assumption that she abandoned her daughter for her new family. So... when a mom on here wants to shut out the father for reasons of her choice it's all right, especially if the child is emotionally closer to mom, but if it's in reverse the mom is terrible and made a bad parental choice.

What a load of Double Standard. How about DAD didn't prepare Daughter appropriately for becoming an adult? How about DAD didn't teach Daughter a single thing about the importance of education? How about DAD didn't encourage Daughter to maintain a closer relationship when Daughter insisted she didn't want to visit Mom and created drama about Mom being remarried and having more children? How about DAD participating in said drama? Maybe there's been parental alienation going on here, but the fact is that you all are making a lot of assumptions when the likelihood is that the OP was trying to do right by her child.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

I see your points, I really do but I disagree with your stance (at least to a point). Many students enter colllege undeclared...I can't remember for sure but I think the guy at my son's college said their undeclared status was their biggest enrollment among freshman. Even if the college had dorms, there is a boarding fee (similiar to that of renting an apartment)...but if she went to the one 10 minutes away she could live at home so I get that. She is an adult but while you may not "owe" her anything, you are her mother and when she fills out the FASFA form for financial aid, her parents income does impact what if any need based funds are available to her. So, your income can prevent her from getting pell grants etc. You are showing her that if she doesn't do what you want, you won't help her. Seems you have taught her that she can't count on you when she needs you.

Why not do some research on the basic courses that she could take at a community college (check more than one) and that would transfer to a four year college later. Offer to help her if she takes classes that will transfer (if she intends to move to a 4 yr school). If she plans to just get a 2 year degree, they won't really need to transfer...still help her but make it clear she will be responsible when/if she decides to go to a 4yr school. Help her apply for student loans, help her pay the monthly amount while she's enrolled knowing that once she's done it is solely her responsibility.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

She's 18. If she wants to move four hours away and get an apartment, she needs to get a job so she can afford rent.
My daughter went to school locally, but had her own place. She worked while going to school to pay her rent and utilities and took out student loans to pay for tuition and books.

ETA: I am amazed at some of the hostility and "How could you" responses. Just because a child comes out of your body doesn't mean that living with you is the best thing for either of you. It is quite possible that the best choice for mom, dad, and daughter was for her to live with her dad and have mom keep some distance and provide financial support.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Sorry, I am so late responding.
I also did not read any previous responses, but here is the way I feel.

Your daughter sounds very immature. Even community college or Jr. College is expensive especially if the person attending is not a serious student.

IF she REALLY wants to attend any sort of college, I would make a deal with her. I would offer to pay for a local college, but she would need to take a certain number of courses for 2 semesters (speak with her academic counselor or a academic counselor at the community college) to find out what they think she can handle and what exact classes she should take).

She could even start this summer. . If she makes passing grades, with no incomplete grades for 2 semesters, I would then be willing to pay for her next semester at the other college hours away.. But again, only continue to pay as long as she keeps her grades up.

She would also need to get a part time job and pay for .. what ever you feel is a good amount.. to keep her responsible..

This is the way a few friends handled their kids who wanted to live away from home and attend college, but really were not very mature.

The secret was these agreements were made in writing. The parents gave the kids options to live at home as long as the kids kept their grades up. This way, their part time work, could go towards paying their transportation, and a few other items,, and the kids could save a little.

The last part is that she is never to lie to you again. Good, bad or ugly, she needs to understand that mature adults, do not lie. There is no need for it. Let her know as long as she tells you the truth, you are going to be more likely to trust her. But if she continues to lie, it will be very difficult for you to trust her and to help her since she is now an adult.

Have strength mom. Keep your wits and do not get pulled into her drama any more. Treat her as a n adult, and as long as she acts like one you can then reward her.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

I would try to keep all the emotion out of the conversations . . . the past history, the dad, etc. What it boils down to is a nonsensical plan to attend community college far from home. The whole point to community college is to save money, figure out what you're doing, and live somewhere relatively cheap (i.e., home) - all while moving towards a degree.

It sounds like the voice of reason needs to be heard here. Unfortunately there may not be the foundational relationship to make that point.

I'm so sorry . . .

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I agree with you. Your daughter wants to spend your money in a way that is less than responsible. It sounds like you think she is not trying to be a good steward of your money, and you think her high school performance is not indicative of a maturity level to succeed hours away from a watchful parental eye. Your daughter is old enough to make her own educational decision, but you are not responsible for financing those decisions.

When I headed to college, my parents paid a portion and there were definite strings attached...must finish in 4 years, must major in something that would allow me to find gainful employment, gpa requirements, etc. My parents were working hard to pay for my college, and I knew that and was expected to respect that. If I had not chosen to play by their rules, I was welcome to make all the decisions entirely on my dime. That seems like a fair deal. I think your expectations are fair. As long as you have clearly communicated exactly what you would help finance and your expecatations from your daughter, it sounds like you are being very fair.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I would agree with some of the other responses that you should try to find a way to meet with the dad alone to come up with a plan. Something to try and keep her locally where her chances of success will be higher. If you are court-mandated to pay a certain amount towards her college, I would check wih an attorney to see if you can plead a case for 'certain conditions' in court. As in "I will pay my fair share BUT it has to be an accredited school, certain GPA's and attendence records have to be maintained" etc.

I have to strongly disagree with those who attacked you as an absentee parent. First, you were there for the first 11 years! The decision to go with her dad didn't happen overnight. I've seen so many cases where the non-custodial parent undermines the parent child relationship to the point where the child ends up with the bad parent. And then that parent does a crappy job raising the child. I have a good friend who has this happening to her right now. She fought very hard during her divorce to retain primary custody of her kids. The ex had family with tons of money, and she ended up spending $60k to win the right to parent her children. The ex gets them every other weekend. She has sacrificed everything for her kids, sets a very high moral example for them, and is one of the most caring moms I've ever met. But now the dad is undermining everything she does for the oldest and causing a huge rift. No matter how terrible the oldest child's behavior, he condones it. If he gets in trouble or suspended from school, the dad takes him out to do something fun for the rest of the day. Well shock of all shocks, guess who just decided he will only live with dad now? Because dad won't hold him accountable. Any attempts to tell him no have ended very, very badly, and the dad swoops in to coddle the son. So she's had no choice but to watch her son leave. It's killing her to know there isn't anything she can do about it.

So no, I do not think you deserted her. Or dumped her. Or that you have any less love for her as you did when she was living with you. If you didn't care about her, you wouldn't be so worried about her future.

Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

your attitude toward your daughter is fairly disturbing, but ultimately i'm with you. college should be something any kid wants badly enough to contribute toward, and to be grateful if the parents help at all.
i DO believe that kids should go to whatever school they want, assuming they can get in (i was pretty bummed when my future DIL got talked out of the college she wanted by her mom). but you are not obligated to pay for her apartment so that she can party.

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answers from Dallas on

I agree with you completely. If she turns things around and shows that she is serious about doing well in school (goes to classes regularly and gets good grades), you may consider helping her with the cost at that point. Now, however, when she hasn't shown any effort in high school, and is making a poor choice for college without listening to anyone's input, I think you're making an excellent decision. If you paid any money now, you would likely be wasting it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

You've got lots of responses. Some not so nice. Some pretty judgemental. Some good advice. So I will keep this brief.
I don't think you can just wash your hands of this. I would suggest you offer to pay her tuition (or half) and that's as long as she maintains a 2.5 gpa. Or, offer up a set amount of money you're willing to pay each year for college or for the four years of college and she's responsible for the difference. If she wants to go to the local one - great. If she wants to go to the one 4 hours away, then she'll have to get a job and pay for it herself. Or, take out a student loan. Yep, student loans cover housing.
My daughter is going to a VERY expensive private school, well beyond our abilities. We had some money, but not enough to cover the first year, so we took out a loan which we pay. She has taken out loans for each year thereafter. That's the best we can do with two more kids to put thru college. So, limits are more than reasonable.
Good luck.

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answers from San Francisco on

Stick to your guns. I agree that she wants to go there so she can party with her friends without parental involvement. She has not earned the privilege of living in an apartment paid for by you and her dad. She should have buckled down in high school if she had such lofty plans for YOUR money after graduation!

Btw, most kids have NO idea what they want to major in when they start college.

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answers from Dallas on

Yep. When she can show you a choice with a future, you have money for her. They can fund the first year and when she accomplishes that with at least a C average, you will fund the second, in view of a good major.

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answers from New York on

I agree with you. My daughter is a senior in HS too, and she is on the right track, going off to college and I will pay for as much of it as I can - but she's earned this. It sounds like your daughter wants to live in an apartment with friends, go to class occasionally, and do it on your dime and your ex's. I feel that you either have to be a serious student or it's time to live like a grownup and get a fulltime job. If this was my daughter, I'd let her know that her living costs are up to her and her dad, but that if she attends community college, that I'd reimburse half the tuition charges for any class where she gets what you consider an acceptable grade.
Good luck!

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answers from Albany on

Hi M., I'm sure there are many many factors leading up to this point that you can't possibly share with us here.

That said, I'm inclined to agree with you completely.

Unless your divorce agreement clearly defines that you are legally required to pay for these exact plans, your obligation is nothing.

I am trying to put myself in your position, being divorced with 2 kids currently in college and one more to go. And I agree that her plans are foolhardy.

Unless of course she will be handling finances herself, and indeed she can. She can get loans to cover tuition and work to pay rent. If she is focused and motivated she would be more then willing to make it happen herself, and likely you would be her biggest cheerleader.

I guess I would likely agree to contribute something financially to her cause, but the overwhelming majority of the costs would be on her shoulders. Plus even a small contribution from me would come with conditions, mostly good grades. REALLY good grades.

To me it seems like working full time, while going to a local CC part time, is probably her best bet.

So maybe offer her a few different options in which you would agree to help, which is really more then you HAVE to (per your divorce agreement).

But don't write her off entirely, ok? At just 18, you and she still could come together on something at some point.


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answers from Rochester on

You're doing the right thing. You don't have to enable her, and good for you for not doing so.

I've never heard of a child support agreement saying someone had to help pay for college. You may be required to continue paying support (if you are currently required to) as long as she is IN school, and if her dad is paying to support her.

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answers from Norfolk on

Given the same circumstances I would not pay anything toward this venture either.
Considering that she will barely graduate high school (and considering that she misses 1 day of school per week, I rather doubt that she will earn her diploma come June) - I would conclude that she is not college bound.
I would doubt that she would do the work no matter what college she goes to whether it's 10 minutes away or 4 hrs away (and without that high school diploma they won't accept her anyway).
IF she eventually goes to college, I would consider giving her some money AFTER she shows me what grades she earned - like reimburse her after the fact (and it would not be for the whole amount - just book money or something like that).
I'd have to see her report card/transcript (not just accept what she told me she got).
The percentage of money I'd give her would depend on the grades - A's you give her more, B's you giver her less, etc - you decide what grade levels merits no money.
Make it clear you will only help up to the point of when she should earn a degree (if she's in a 2 yr program, then you'll help for 2 years based on her grades. If she does not earn her degree/certificate in that time frame then at the end of that time you are done and help is over).
She's going to have to get a job and earn a living one way or another.
Dad can be as upset as he wants.
It's not up to you (or him for that matter) to fund party fun time.

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answers from Detroit on

There is no way on earth I would pay for an apartment. She can live at home and pay rent, not that it sounds like her dad would make her.

As for the community college, I think that's the best place for an undecided student since they can explore not only four year options, but all of the vocational and two year programs. Plus, if she fails or stops going it's not as expensive. Besides, I thought most CC here in Michigan had transfer agreements with the four year universities?

Missed the line about how the CC she wants to go to is 4 hours away. Wouldn't she have to pay out of district tuition? No way.

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answers from Chicago on

The rule in my house was, C's or better .. If I did not get that, I had to pay for it myself.

JR college is a good choice over a 4 year college, much cheaper.

Just because you think it is a bad choice, may not be true? Not sure.

Good Luck

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answers from Dallas on

When my daughter went away to school we told her that she had to maintain a certain GPA or the money stops and she has to either come home or figure out how to support herself.

College is often different and some kids who didn't do so well in High School will do well in college (I did much better in college). Given she barely made it out of high school, maybe tell her you are willing to help out if she can can make it through a semester or two on her own. Or you will help out but she has to go to a local school for a year and keep her grades up.

Part of this is about giving her some options and keeping the relationship and lines of communication open. You don't have to give in to what she is asking, but you could give her some choices..if she doesn't choose those options then so be it.

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answers from Miami on

So what if her dad is upset. He wants her out of his house and wants you to finance it. She hasn't proven that she will make it through college, first off. She is willing to go to a far-off community college far enough away in order to put off having to work for a living. She wants an apartment so that she doesn't have to live with a parent anymore. And yes, she wants to party on someone else's dime.

I would NOT do this for her. If you have the means, I would do the following instead. Tell your ex that you won't pay for any college expenses other than community college in her area. You will only pay "x" amount towards her tuition, and ONLY after you see that she has made C's or better on the semester grades. When you see her grades, you will reimburse "x" amount of the tuition for the past quarter or semester to your ex. If she blows off school, it's HIS dime. You will pay nothing towards an apartment for her to party with her friends.

Tell him that she has to prove that she is serious about being a student and not a leech before you pay a cent towards school. Make SURE that you put what you are willing to do in plain English so that he can't say you offered more.

Your ex is hoping that you'll mitigate his loss if she flunks out. He is tired of dealing with her and wants you to pay for it. If you do it this way instead, you give him an incentive to be on the same page as you - putting HIS foot down with her instead of against you.

Truly, if you offer this "carrot", it will probably keep her at home with him until she grows up a little. It is okay right now that she doesn't know what she wants to major in. Taking general college courses that most freshmen take is what she needs to do anyway. Lots of kids don't know what they want to major in until they get into college life.

If you stick to your guns, your ex will have no choice but to decide whether he is willing to foot this bill on his own.

I do hope that you will offer the carrott. She is immature and needs a lot of growing up. She also needs a chance to grow up while getting enough education so that she can do more than flip burgers. From what you've detailed, you didn't actually pay a lot of money towards her upbringing for the past several years. Even though you don't have to do it, she's your daughter and it may be the best investment you make in her for her to be a successful adult, what every parent wants for their child.

Good luck with your decision.

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answers from Albuquerque on

Your money = your decision.

If she had her own way of paying, then you wouldn't really have a say in this. But if you're paying for half the tuition and housing costs, then you do have a say. And I agree with you that going to a mediocre community college four hours away isn't really a smart decision for her future... regardless of your relationship with your daughter.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

If your daughter is adamant, and there aren't people who can change her mind, then she'll do what she wants to do - for a little while.

If she's going to this place because her friends are going, she's going to have a big surprise: college changes everything. The friendships of high school might possibly mature, but most of the time they just fade away.

The money will be a problem, apartment or not, and SHE needs to work it out with her dad. Dawn has some good ideas about that (as usual) if you decide to, or find your must, contribute. The money business, too, will come as a shock to your daughter, because it will be a business deal, not a gift or an entitlement.

Not only that: she will find that a college is not obligated to put up with absenteeism, and she'll have to wake up fast and start learning how to learn, or she'll be requested to seek her education elsewhere.

Her not knowing what she wants to do... is actually not a problem. College students nearly always have a set of required courses to take, wherever they are, and many students discover their direction while struggling through those required courses. In fact, many young people I know who finish high school with excellent grades head to community college and online courses to do the basic requirements that way - and then, with their added maturity, they transfer to other schools to get their degrees. (And they make sure their courses are transferable.) Your daughter's biggest challenge is to get to the point where she has that maturity.

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answers from Detroit on

Okay, I think I see both sides to this. Or two out of three. I agree with you that there's no reason to go 4 hours away where the school isn't going to transfer credits, etc and that there's a closer one. That makes sense. What would make sense is to go locally and then get a job to earn the $ for gas and schoolbooks.
Your daughter is probably a bit daunted by the idea of being out of school and insecure about being separated from her friends. Normal.
Your ex is making excuses. He should be understanding that it costs big bucks to go to college. And encouraging your daughter to go locally and get the basics out of the way. You both should be drumming into her that going to college just to stay with her friends is not what the money is about and that college is about learning and studying. And that if she wants to continue on to a 4 year, she needs to go now where her credits will be transferable. The whole picture should be explained to her. And if she's going to insist on an apartment, she needs to get a job to help defray the costs. Living at home will counteract apartment living. Even if you decide she should pay rent, it could be a lot less than apartment rent. Ultimately she may decide on a school that teaches different skills than what community or 4 years offer.

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answers from Milwaukee on

I agree a lot with what Dawn said below. One thing I would add is for you & your daughter to sit down & write up a contract if she is agreeable to the terms. That way, there's no "but you said!" "no I didn't" when things potentially do not work out the way everyone had hoped.
And if your proposal is met with animosity from her or your ex, just point out that you are willing to help fund your daughter's education, but that doesn't mean that you aren't going to set guidelines. If she really wants to go to school for the purpose of a good education & hopefully a smart career path to follow, then she can see the wisdom in some of the restrictions you are enforcing.
If she is not willing to make that compromise, then she will need to be an adult & find her own way to fund her desires, because that's what they are - wants, not needs.
Good luck!
Edited to add:
Do keep in mind that a 4-year college is not the only worthwhile type of education. Many trades are taught through the 2-year programs @ a Community college, so if your daughter actually has a plan that involves this path, it is not wasted time/money for her to attend a community college & pursue that training, even though the classes wouldn't transfer to a 4-year college. Some examples of this are Culinary Arts, Technology trades, some lower level nursing, medical coders, etc.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

What does your divorce decree say? My BIL's specifically states that both parents are responsible for all costs (room, board, tuition) for my niece's college education. This may not be your decision to make.

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answers from Grand Forks on

When I went to college I was given my college fund. It was my decision how to spend it. The decisions regarding my education were mine to make. I was an adult. I would not have gone to a college away from home because I knew I wouldn't be able to afford rent on top of tuition and books. If my parents had just payed the bills I may not have made the same kinds of decisions. What I did end up doing was paying for college from my paycheques and saving my college fund, which I then used to make the down payment on my house.

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answers from Washington DC on

Paying for college for your children is an option, not a requirement.

My SD chose a university that is more expensive than where her brother went. She understands that she will have loans to repay and that they will be HER LOANS and not ours. We have x dollars to give her, period. She is working because she knows she needs to cover things like food and books. We will support her to a point. She is 18 and if she chooses to live off campus (example) then she needs to pay for it.

As far as not knowing her major, MANY kids go in undeclared and figure it out. I would not be so worried about that. She will have to figure out what transfers,what doesn't, what direction she wants to take. And if she doesn't transfer all she needs, she'll retake that class. It will be hers to deal with.

So, bottom line, your agreement to pay or not pay is between you and her. If you come up with something that makes it palatable for you, then offer her some money on those conditions. If not, then she's made an adult choice and will need to deal with her choice. Like take a loan or work or otherwise figure it out. She may not be pleased and her father may not be pleased, but they can't dictate your money. I understand the draw to go where your friends are and it may or may not be party party all the time just because they are there (unless you have evidence of this as prior behavior). So for me, it would matter less that the friends are there (maybe she will be happier with them around and more likely to stick with it) and more that you will only support x and y. If your budget doesn't include housing, then she has to fund her own housing. If you will be willing to repay her for classes she aces or classes she can confirm will transfer, then maybe that is what you offer her.

Community college is a very affordable way for many to get an AA degree or to jumpstart a 4 yr degree, so maybe look at it that way - that she's choosing a less expensive route and she is actually going to school vs doing nothing post graduation. One of my nephews graduated the same time as SD and has yet to get a job, go to school, or do much at all.

You still don't have to fund it, but maybe take another look as an opportunity to understand her reasons and rebuilt your relationship. You say you've had very little to do with her the last 7 years and maybe revisiting your stance here can be a way to reconnect with her. Really know her and hear her out and find out who this young woman is now.

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answers from Columbus on

Community college is a very good way to start the college experience, especially for a child who is not a dedicated student. It is possible to get a lot of the prerequisites out of the way for very little money compared to a traditional four year college. As a former college professor, I can tell you, about 75% of the kids who go to college are unprepared or underprepared and too immature to handle the load. The amount of money families spend is typically, in my opinion, a waste.

The bottom line is that you cannot control what she does, only what you do. You've set your rules -- no money. You've told her the best advice I would give -- get a job and wait until you're ready. The only other thing I can think to advise is that you say these things out of love and concern and without malice or attitude and be available to her when she trips and falls (no "I told you so"). But beyond that, I think you've done all you can do.

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answers from Boston on

You have your hands full. You are not alone.

It sounds like she wants to go to college to be with friends and because it means she doesn't need to make a decision.

The only thing I think you can relax about is whether she knows what she wants to major in. Most kids don't declare a major until the end of sophomore year, so an exploration process is okay if everything else is in order.

If she's willing to apply for student aid and to understand that she starts paying loans (in HER name) as soon as she finishes school (drop out or graduate), then she can be a grown up.

I don't think an apartment at a community college is going to give her the college experience the same way as living in a dorm with an RA and meeting new people would do. She has shown no interest in education, because she can't get to school 5 days a week, failed junior year, and is barely graduating. So if she's not going for the education, and she's not going for the life experience, what's the point? If she wants to sleep late and skip classes, she can do that at home (and has been).

However, I think February of senior year is a little late to be dealing with all this. Has her father tried to deal with any of the underlying issues? Is she depressed? Anxious? Engaging in dangerous or self-destructive behaviors? I would have him spearhead some serious intervention, and if he won't, I wouldn't be forking over any money. She either needs help, or she needs tough love, or both.

GOod luck.

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answers from Seattle on

She is an adult and has to make her own mistakes. She can work and apply for financial aid, as well as take up student loans. I think community college is a great idea for a student like your DD. Usually renting an apartment is much cheaper than living in dorms (at least here in Seattle it is) and the school is more affordable as well, so taking a few non-transferable classes is not such a big hit to the wallet. She is at an age were she is still figuring out what she is all about - it's ok.

I think that if you would have otherwise helped her fund her education you should take that money and invest it. If she succeeds you can offer her the money after graduation to pay off her student loans or go on to a 4 year degree. That way you would help with her education but make it contingent on school success and know that she won't just take your money and blow it on partying.

Your DD is by far no the only young adult that just isn't ready (socially, academically) to succeed in college right after high school. Both my DH and I are college dropouts. We did a lot of partying at that age, worked a lot, traveled, had a lot of fun... when we were in our thirties we were READY, went back to school completed our bachelors degrees with honors (I will be done this summer) and put ourselves through school. Maybe it was harder than getting a free, parent financed ride... but we have no regrets, not about enjoying our 20's and not about going back to school and making it on our own with only each other for support.

Good luck.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

She's 18. She is used to getting her own way from the sounds of your post.

She is going to mess up, party, flunk out. She will learn and have to pay the consequences that she has to learn from this.

She might actually thrive in this environment. I did and made nearly straight "A"'s. I was older but didn't have a very strong education background, no study habits, didn't have that drive to do any projects, etc.....

I think that the 3 of you need to sit down and work this out. Perhaps you and dad need to sit down first, without her interference and pleading.

Things to consider:

She will be 18 and can live where ever she wants and go to school where ever she wants.

Are the friends she wants to go to school with good students? Would they possibly be good examples to her? Would they curb her desire to party because they'd be studying?

What would be the cost? Would she room with these friends? Are they wanting her to come with them or do they wish she'd not be at the same school?

What are their parents thinking? Why are they letting their kids go to this school? What are their roommate plans?

I think that once you get some answers to these kinds of questions you might feel better about what your decision will be.

I think that she doesn't sound like college material anyway, not to be mean but if she nearly flunked her junior year and didn't make it to school at least one day per week then she's not going to succeed at any college level school that she attends, have you considered that if you send her to a more expensive school that it's just going to be a more expensive waste of money?

I really don't want to sound mean but she isn't a good student, she doesn't have the ability to wake up and get herself to school, she misses school regularly, and that's with an "adult" living with her that is supposed to make her go to school. Why would anyone expect her to succeed at college with no one making her make the right choices.

Here's a compromise you could offer.

Tell them that you will send $XXX.xx per month to dad to help support her. What ever dad spends the money on is up to him. If you are willing to help her if she made the choices you wanted then you should give her some sort of support, after all, she might surprise both of you.

If you would be giving her money anyway then I suggest you work out a compromise that you can live with. Making money a reward for doing only what you want isn't something that will make you feel good in the long run.

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answers from Chicago on

I think you are doing the exact right thing.
Good for you!

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answers from Tampa on

First you have to see what the child support agreement says - does it say that you must contribute to her College Education? If so then unless you go to court you have no choice.

College Education was a provision in not only my parents divorce/child Support but also in the final judgements of many of my friends' parents along with many of our friends who have gone through divorce.

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answers from Houston on

I'm late in responding and haven't read the other responses, but I do have an opinion on this.

Meet her where she is. We don't really know why she wants to go to this school If this is where she says she wants to go, take her college day out of school, go with her to meet with the advisor at the college and ask all of your questions in front of her, including asking if this degree and any accumulated hours will transfer to other colleges or if she will have to start school over when she decides what to study for a career. Look at the potential apartments and explain what you will and will not pay for and why. Have the private time with her, try to see through her eyes and give her the opportunity to see through yours.



answers from Austin on

I agree. If she doesn't see the value in going to school now, how will she waste your money in college. I would not give her a dime toward rent and college as she doesn't even have the respect for your money to attend a closer school. For her, it is all about her. She wants to do what she wants and she wants you to fund it. If her dad wants to, fine. That is his problem. But I would stick to your guns.

If she were to get all A's, I would tell her that you would give her something or do something for her. You could suggest that to her dad as well, if he is so sure she is ready for college... Or if you want to lower that to B's - you know her capabilities. Maybe she needs an incentive to start applying herself.



answers from Lansing on

I would think since she is 18, that she can make her own decisions, whether the parents think they are right or wrong. All you can do is give her the tools to get thru her own successes and failures. The hardest part of being a prent is watching your kids (or someone you love) get hurt somehow, but it has to be their choice.



answers from Saginaw on

nowadays you can "go to college" without ever leaving home. Most schools offers the basics online. I wonder if she should try 2 or 3 gen ed courses that way for the first semester and see how that goes...then decide.
Community colleges that don't transfer classes? no way...that's the whole point of CC, is to get the gen ed's out of the way (cheaper) and transfer the courses. that said.....she needs to know what she's going to be when she grows up before she even starts.....for instance....if she wants to get a BS in nursing from Wayne State....they will have a list of exactly which classes transfer in toward that degree and from which community colleges. There are about 12 different "english" classes.....they may only accept 1 or 2 toward their degrees. Makes no sense to just blindly take classes and then hope they go toward what she wants to do later.
I think you are right to stand your ground. She acted like a big girl for a few years now....let her keep going that route...



answers from Washington DC on

I fully support going to college but I see why you are concerned. I think I would tell her that given her past history with school that she needs to prove herself for a year at the community college 10 min away. If she maintains at least a B average then you can support her going to the school that is 4 hours away.

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