Paying for Child's College Tuition?

Updated on November 29, 2010
M.H. asks from Fuquay Varina, NC
41 answers

Another question on here (about size of family) got me thinking about what the "norm" is for college and children paying these days? I know that every family handles it differently, but a lot of the moms were talking about paying for college and it made me take a step back.

My husband and I plan on helping our child(ren) out as much as we can with college tuition, but honestly, I believe the majority of that "burden" should fall on them. I believe that since they will then be "adults" and are working toward a career, they should be investing their own time and money into it. (Like I said, we will help some, but certainly not all.) I think I feel this way because the kids I knew who had their college education completely paid for seemed to slack off more and fail more classes (my hubby being one of them!). I had quite a few tell me that it wasn't their money, so what did it matter. Those of us that paid/took out loans failed zero classes and took them much more seriously (and my loans are there to prove it!). Again, I know that's not everyone, but it is what I noticed while I was in school.

I'm not trying to start some debate, because I do believe to each his/her own, but what do you think about paying for your child's college education? Is it "adios" when they turn 18? Are you helping with extras, but tuition is theirs to cover? Is it a full ride?

Hope you all are having a good night!

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your insightful answers. My son is only 4, so we don't have to think about this for a long time, but I think that as long as my husband and I have given him all of the information (you will have loans adding up to this much, you will need scholarships, etc.), then it should work out just fine.

I hope I didn't offend any of you that didn't have to pay your way. I truly believe that most all college kids (even those who have to fund most/all of their own education) take advantage of the fact that they are there at some point in time, and again, I just saw way too many students who had their way paid that slacked off. Obviously, that is not everyone, it was just my observation.

To the mom that said she hopes I am not making my child pay his own way because I had to...I promise, that is not it. :) My parents actually paid a good portion of my college education (as I plan to do for my son), but they just refused to pay all of it. I believe that working in college and working to help pay for your college prepare you for what is to come in life. Most people do not have mom and dad paying for things as adults, so I believe college is a perfect transition to begin to pay for your own things and begin to understand the value of a dollar. This is just my opinion... :)

Again, thank you all for answering, and keep them right or wrong here! :)

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answers from Chicago on

If I can afford it (and I plan to be able to -- my older daughter didn't go to college but my younger one probably will) then there is no question that I'll pay for it. My parents paid for my education, and I wasn't a slacker and didn't take it less seriously. I wouldn't do less for my kids than what was done for me.

I also worked some through college and I would expect that of my kids as well. It helps pay for the extras.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My husband and I debate this. There are definitely examples of kids who had their way paid and slacked off. But maybe there are just as many people out there who would have finished college or gone if it was paid for and they would be in a much better career now. My take is kids don't ask to be born - we decide to have them. Why would we want to saddle them with debt? Not debt for a fancy car but for an education that is necessary to have a comfortable lifestyle (usually - I know you can do well w/out a college degree but statistically, a degree matters.) And paying for college does not predict a spoiled child. My parents paid for 4 years of an expensive private college despite not being "wealthy". I've never asked for a penny since. My best friend had to pay for some of her education and she's the one who can never seem to stop buying things she doesn't need and absolutely can't afford.

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answers from Atlanta on

My parents paid for my college tuition and I was neither a slacker or someone who failed classes and neither were the majority of people I knew well at two different colleges/universities who were being funded by their parents. I believe we should help our kids as much as possible and yes, I definitely plan to pay for all or most of my children's college educations. That's why we set up the 529 accounts that we and their grandparents donate to quite often. My FIL actually puts money into all of his grandkid's accounts every month! I love him for that alone! Most kids whose parents pay for college know that if they screw up -the free ride is over. Parents who continue to pay after their kid is failing and not taking a full load have themselves to blame.

College is extremely expensive! Depending on where your children go -you may not be able to pay it all. Many scholarships and grants exist, and I will be urging my kids and any others to take advantage of any they can. To me though -kids should enjoy their college years. I don't consider college-age kids to be full-fledged "adults." It's a golden time between living with parents and being a "kid" and having to be a full-fledged adult. It's their first experience out on their own and I would hate for my kids to spend most of their non-class time working. They'll have had summer jobs during high school, and they'll have the rest of their lives to work. I'm fine with some sort of part-time job for extras they want (I usually had one when I was in college), but I don't want them feeling like they have to wait tables 40 hours a week and take a full class load to make ends meet. I also don't want my child saddled with student loans for years and years after graduating as many of my friends are -and my husband who DID screw up and eventually had to pay his own way. So yes, I plan on paying for them or at least as much as we possibly can.

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answers from New York on

My husband and I are funding our children's college education 100% - we consider it an investment in their future. If they had to pay for it themselves, there is no way they could afford to go to the school of their choice. We do not expect them to work full-time while they are away in college - their job is to focus on their schoolwork and get good grades. They know this is a privilege and also know if they do not hold up their end of the bargain by applying themselves, they will have to withdraw, return home, and apply to a local school that they can commute to. Fortunately, we are blessed with 2 kids who are highly motivated and responsible and take their education seriously, and we are in a position where we are able to do this for them. I don't think that having your education funded by your parents makes you any less motivated as a student, but I guess that depends on what kind of student you've been all along.

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answers from Glens Falls on

My parents paid for everything but I certainly wasn't a slacker and I paid for everything for my daughter, too, and she did way better in college than she did in high school! I think it depends on your financial circumstances and your child's maturity and attitude towards education.

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answers from Chicago on

We have college funds for both kids, and we will contribute as much as we can possibly afford. It would be nice to pay 100% of their college costs, but we shall see if that's possible.

You are also crazy in thinking that only kids who pay their own way do well. My parents paid for my undergraduate education and I graduated with honors. It has little to do with who is paying for it. I knew I wanted to get a PhD, so I had to do well to get into a top grad program. Also, how would your theory explain the thousands upon thousands of kids that attend community colleges and never get anywhere? They are usually paying for their own schooling.

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answers from Memphis on

I think it mostly depends on what you are able to do. If you are financially able to save the money to send your kids to college, then it makes sense for you to do so; if you're low-income and/or have a lot of kids, you may truly not be able to do so. It also depends on where the kids want to go to college -- an in-state public school will be (comparatively) cheap, while an out-of-state and/or private school may have you paying through the nose. Take a look at your financial situation, how old your kids are, and how much you can save for them. And as you save for their college education, drill it into their heads that they *will* go to college and *will* work hard and *won't* waste your money. You're right that a lot of kids will just blow off college because it's not *their* money they're wasting. Taking the time to lay the groundwork in your kids' pre-college years will save you some time and heartache during their college years.

I have nothing against making kids pay for their own college, and think it's generally a good idea (although I don't know that it's necessarily a panacea for them to take out loans; I've known many kids who have goofed off during college and/or taken out more money than they needed for tuition and books because the pay-back time/date on their loans seemed so far away). At the least, I don't think that parents should pick up the difference between an inexpensive college and an expensive one, just because the kid wants to go to an expensive one. [I'm laying the groundwork on that one, even though my kids are only 4 & 6 -- I give them clothes and food and toys and such, but if they want something other than what they have, they will have to pay for it. For example, my older son wanted a "Lightning McQueen" toy he saw at Walmart for $20, and I made him pay for it with his birthday money, rather than just buying it for him. I buy him most of his toys at yard sales, and he is perfectly content with that most of the time; since he wanted a particular brand-new toy that was 10-100x the price I normally pay for toys, he had to pay for it himself. The same principle will apply with college - if he wants a different college from what we can afford, he will have to pay for it.]

Also, if you pay for part or all of their college, it should be dependent on their grades. There is no way you should sign up for paying 4 years of college for them to goof off and flunk many of their classes. Take it year by year, or even one semester at a time -- just like college grants are done. If they prove themselves to be studious and hard-working, they can go to college the next semester/year; if not, you won't pay a dime, and they'll have to take full loans or drop out and start working.

Plus, they should probably be made to save some/most of their money from working as a teenager, to pay for college, and be made to work during the summer and also at night and on weekends *during* college, to defray expenses. For one thing, they won't have enough time to get into trouble. ;-) And for another, they'll be more appreciative of money, and the cost of living, and of hard work -- all very good things for them to learn in life!

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answers from Austin on

I have told this story here a million times.

When our daughter was 3, she asked about how school works.. I explained day care, kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school and then College.. I told her "the neat thing about College is that you get to live at the school!" She was so excited she said she wanted to go to college "Where it snows!"

I was like wooo.. where did that come from? I was thinking here in Texas..

Anyway I immediately said "We would love for you to go to college where it snows, but that is very far away and will cost a lot of money." Mommy and daddy do not have a lot of money so you will need to work really hard and study a lot in school, so you can get scholarships and grants to go to school where it snows."

And she did it! She was a National Merit Scholar, applied to 9 top tier colleges, was accepted to all of them and was awarded Presidential Scholarships and grants at EVERY college.. We still pay a bit, but she really earned it.. In the summers and during holidays she works for her spending money. She is very frugal.

The First year Texas offered the opportunity to purchase the Texas Tomorrow plan, my mom purchased it.. This has helped to pay the Tuition based on Texas in state tuition, even though our daughter is up north..

Our daughter is a double major, Deans list, and takes her education extremely serious.. Out of her classmates that went away to college, there are 2 that I can think of that flunked out.. These were kids that their parents really forced them to go to college, even though to the rest of us, felt they needed time to mature..

Most of the parents helped their children quite a bit with paying for college, but most of them also qualified for some assistance..

You do what you feel is right. But make sure your kids understand their part of the puzzle. That you are going to pay tuition, so they will need to do their part and save for everything else.. .. If they continue to live with you while in college.. keep this in mind they will be there 4 more years..

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answers from Detroit on

My parents paid for both my college education and my brother's 100% and it did not cause us to take it any less seriously. Maybe it's more about the values you instill in your children than whether you pay for it or not.

Part of it depends on what families can afford and where the kid wants to go to school and how expensive it will be. Local community college or Yale? Living at home or living at the school? Are they planning to go to grad school as well?

My daughter is only 3, so we still have time to think it over, but we can afford to pay it 100% if it comes down to it without sacrificing our retirement. My stepsons, in high school, living with their mom, are not so well off but they are also lacking motivation (Dad has always paid all child support and has helped out with extras as well, but their mom doesn't discipline herself enough with her spending and can't seem to stay on a budget). We can afford their college as well, but given their history of slacking off in school, I would not feel comfortable just forking over a blank check. My feeling is, let them get loans, financial aid, whatever it takes, to finance their education. Then once they have graduated, earned a degree, and have a job in their chosen field, then maybe you can help them out paying off the loans to whatever degree you can. If they fail any step of the way, drop out, etc., they are still responsible for the cost.

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answers from San Diego on

We expect to pay our children's 100% college tuition. However, I also expect them to find a way to contribute to the extras, like books and living expenses. It's not that I don't think they'll take their classes seriously if they don't. It's more that I think that they'll learn just as much by finding jobs and working as they will in a classroom. I certainly did.

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answers from Dallas on

People have a lot of different views on this topic. You have to do what you feel is right for your family.

My husband and I feel it is our parental obligation to get our daughter through college debt free. We have planned things in such a way that there will be no loans.

We started saving when she was born and we are prepared for her full ride. We anticipate/plan for $60,000 + a year. Of course, she'll contribute to her personal expenses, may have a scholarship or 2 but she will not have the added pressure of trying to finance her education. It is a full ride for our daughter.

Our daughter is very driven, motivated and looks forward to her expereince. She knows she has a full ride and she knows what is expected of her as far as grades, hard work, etc. She is excited about college. We started visiting colleges this fall. She's currently in 10th grade.

It does depend on personal circumstances and the discipliine you have. We are fortunate. We are very hard workers, have strong work ethic and things have paid off for us financially. We live debt free and we are fully funded for our retirement.

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answers from Raleigh on

My husband and I plan on contributing as much as possible and have already started saving (they are 2 and 5). We will sit down with our kids close to college time and let them know how much money they have in their college accounts and take a look at the schools they want to go to.

My husband worked part time in college for spending money, and it didn't cut into his school work. He was able to graduate without student loans. I worked summers and saved up my spending money for the year.

I have way too many friends that graduated with student loans. Some are almost 40 and still paying some of them off. I absolutely DO NOT want to start my kids off in "real life" with loans and the lesson that they can borrow money to get what they want instead of saving for it. It's hard enough to pay the bills when you are in an entry level job, adding a loan payment on top of it makes it harder.

I'm not saddling my kids with debt, nor am I tapping into my retirement account to pay for college. They have X amount and we'll budget it together when they are ready to go off to school. Having debt (and the stress it brings) is not a "life lesson" in this house. Budgeting and saving is.

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answers from Jacksonville on

My story:
My sister and I were given the choice when we were younger for my parents to either buy us a car or pay for college. We both chose college. I had a scholarship for 75% of my tuition, my parents covered the rest. They also covered my big expenses like rent, car insurance and health insurance. I covered everything else (books, car payment, food, gas, clothing). And no, I was not a slacker and never once had the attitude of it being my parents' money so I didn't care.
I don't know if this is how you feel or not, but after reading your post I really wanted to pass along the advice to please make sure you are not approaching the situation with a "well I had to pay for college so why shouldn't they" attitude.

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answers from Wilmington on

You will NEVER save enough......We have been saving for years and inflation has taken a toll.....if you having savings bonds, there are rules for those.....I believe it is supposed to be in the parents names and not the child....the more money in the child's name, the more detrimental to them receiving scholarships. You need to look into covadell IRA's and Depending on the academic excellence as well as the philanthropy of the child, they can get scholarships such as the Park Scholarship at NC State. You may, as well as your child, will have to be proactive on looking into this. As well as staying on top of the guidance office of your high school.....I know that it is said that a student will do better if they pay for it, but I don't think all children are that way. The ones with a drive to succeed will do so. We are starting our son out at community college which is much less expensive and then if he maintains a decent GPA he is eligible to go to any state school thereafter. He may also choose to go elsewhere but there is the option to move straight into a state school and there is an agreement with CFCC and UNCW so that is great as well....We are also learning that certain fundings/savings cover certain things for tax purposes. Some things cover books & supplies, some cover tuition, etc. You have to be careful with that. It truly is a game. Good luck but you will have to devote some time to educating yourself.....
I have a friend who was a high school guidance counselor and college advisor. She said that studies have proven that a student that works 20 hrs. a week does better in school. My son has been working more thatn that and it has been difficult with his school load. He is taking a leave from work so he can focus on his studies. He also had a learning issue in elementary school, but has conquered it over the years. So it depends on the child if they can handle working and school.

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answers from Charleston on

I agree with Ann Landers on this one, who says "children are NOT entitled to a free ride through college". I'll tell you what happened with me and several close friends whose parents paid for the whole shebang and were dense enough to say so from the gate: Some of us switched majors a million times, some of us dropped out to go to trade schools, and some of us got half of the way done before deciding that we were going to be the next Tony Montana and party it up, because I knew, at least, that if I screwed up, mommy and daddy were going to foot the bill so I could take good and long in finding out what I really wanted to do. My husband and I decided that even if we had 10 million dollars for our children's schooling, we are saying nothing until they have graduated and made arrangements to repay loans, or whatever. Then we will foot the bill, but until then, we will make sure to remind our children to be good and certain that they are ready for the commitment of a college education, because it is expensive, and going into default on your loans is bad. We have a secret college fund, but are keeoing it just that-a secret. But, if saving for college meant scrimping and always doing without, then no, I wouldn't pay and I would not feel guilty about it. If a young adult is serious about their formal education, they will find a way to make it happen, and most likely, learn some responsibility in the process.

Added: I am just sharing my experience, but to clarify it, I was in AP courses throughout high school, ans was also in the "gifted" program since elementary school (which means nothing). During the first 3/4 of college, I maintained a 3.8+ GPA and was accepted into the college's nurse anesthetist program(which had very stringent acceptance guidelines). Looking back, I'm 95% certain that if I was fully aware that I would be the one responsible for repaying my tuition, I would have not flaked out so royally!

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answers from Dallas on

My parents gave me a choice when I entered High School (and even before that). If I wanted to attend college, I had to either get scholarships and they would help me with the rest (food, dorm) OR I had to get a job while in college (they would still help some, but I would have to work if they were to help).
Either way is hard work.
Another thing to consider is the fact that financial aid and such will many times be based on the income of the parents. So, if you expect your child to get help through financial aid, your income could actually hinder that.
Just my two cents,

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answers from Houston on

Wow - I am concerned by many of the responses to this question. I only hope that parents who are pledging to pay for their children's education have already paid off their debt AND fully funded their retirement - you are not helping your child by paying for their education if you have not taken care of yourself first. Like one of the posters below I too have a "secret-fund" set up for my children's education - it is not specifically allocated in a college fund, rather its included with my other savings. We have no debt and have fully funded our retirement. My children will never know that a "college fund" for them exists, rather I expect them to work hard in school to obtain scholarships and grade-based no-interest loans in order to pay for their schooling. I do expect them to work during summers and holiday breaks and I expect that they will graduate with student debt. Then they will learn how to budget and save in their 20s and 30s in order to pay off their student loan debt during that time. This is exactly what happened to me and it worked out perfectly - I was expectly to work hard in school long before college and because I did I obtained several scholarships and non-interest loans. I still graduated (after private law school) with $125k in student loans, but I paid them off in less than 10 years by working hard and saving money (used cars, no shopping trips or vacations - but this is how kids in their 20s should be living!!!). Because I knew I would be graduating with student loans I chose a major that would actually earn an income. My husband worked nights/overtime during his summers in order to pay for his college tuition and also chose a major that would actually earn an income. I get frustrated when I hear parents say they refuse to saddle their children with student loan debt, as if college tuition is just another toy at the toy store - our student loan system works when it is used correctly. I took out several 0% interest student loans that required me to maintain an A average - that meant I had to study every night and attend class every day - but isn't that what you are supposed to do in college!?! I also took out several federal loans - but after paying them on time for 2 yrs my interest rates were knocked down to less than 2% - after inflation that is basically free money! So yes, I was proud of my student loan debt - it was the smartest investment I ever made. And yes, I had to wait to "enjoy" my life until my late thirties but trust me, it was worth the wait!!!

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answers from Philadelphia on

I agree with you. When my husband went to college he got loans and we are paying them back, I took classes and did the same. I never asked or expected my parents to pay for college for me. I laugh when people pay their kids way, I know it's a personal choice I just think when you buy your kids car's and their education you don't teach them to do for themselves.

So my husband and I wont be doing this for our kids.

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answers from Lynchburg on

Hi M.-

I currently have three kids in college. The eldest is a senior, and will graduate in may...But, the 'next child' will go this still three 'in' at same time.

The oldest did ROTC, so that was a help...the college account $$ for him was able to 'slide' to his sibs accounts. The next child CHOSE to have a full time job and go to school. The next in line has gotten lots of financial aid... to include grants and scholarships...and work/study in her major. Those three have all gone to good state schools that were 'tops' in their respective majors.

The 'next' in line is looking at smaller private schools better suited to his learning style. From the Financial Aid workshop we went to at the school, there IS an amount of $$ awarded to each 'in state' student help 'level' the playing field between private and state institutions...I have to file the FAFSA form to see what/how much is covered for him.

My parents were able to cover my in state tuition for me...I worked to pay for room/board extras...I worked myself thru for my masters. My older brother got a full ride scholarship...and promptly flunked out. My parents did NOT offer to assist him...and he finally, years later, put himself thru. He somehow resented (and still resents) my parents for that all these years later...

I have told ALL of my kids that I will assist them with applying for grants etc...and using their education fund for FOUR years of college...that results in a degree...and that their grades need to be far so good!

They are all home for T I will update you then! lol

Good Luck!


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answers from Seattle on

We're in kind of an odd boat, because we homeschool. In our state it's FREE for highschool students to take as many college courses as they wish (in our state it's called "Running Start", a verison of "dual enrollment" that many states offer)... so most HS'ers I know start college between the ages of 14 & 16.

So IDEALLY... the first 2+ years of my son's college education will be on the house.

After that I HOPE to fund a "gap year", and to help as much as possible with his bachelor's tuition the year after that. Lord only knows how much I'll be able to. He won't be 18 for 10 more years... and with private schools already costing 35k per year... it really depends on where he goes.

We'll see, however. You know the old saying: Man Plans; God Laughs.

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answers from Kansas City on

I know you've received a bunch of responses, but I just recently had this "debate" with a friend. My husband and I both have graduate degrees (he has 2) and neither of us had one penny in student loans from undergrad or grad school. For that, I am truly grateful! My hubby went to West Point (free) and the Army has paid for both of his grad school degrees. I went to Florida State and my mom paid my tuition (she was a single mom of 4--but paid 4 years of tuition for all of us) and I got scholarships to pay the rest (I was a 4.0 student). My husband and I paid out-of-pocket for me to go to grad school and his parents helped pay my last semester--just so I didn't have to take out loans. Your argument of "it's not their money, so what did it matter" really depends on the kid. I would have been a 4.0, graduate in 4 years type student no matter what! We fully intend on paying most--if not all--of our kids' college (they are 5, 2, and 4 months). My in-laws did a pre-paid college program for all 3 which will cover tuition and my hubby and I have a 529 for each kid. Now, this will only cover in-state tuition. If they go to a private school or out-of-state, then we'll do what we can. However, there will be strings attached (i.e. good grades, graduate in 4 years, etc). My hubby's parents put money aside for him and since he didn't use it b/c of where he went to school, they invested it for him. IF you can give your children the gift of an education, why not?

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answers from Norfolk on

My husband and I debate this all the time as well. I think we will just see how our kids perform and decide as the time gets closer (my oldest is 4 too). But I wanted to share my experience with you. My twin sister and I were straight-A students throughout high school. While we weren't necessarily spoiled rotten, we were definitely not wanting for anything. We were helped with a car, but we both worked part-time and were not troublemakers at all.

We had always just assumed that our parents (who are divorced) would pay for college. They never brought it up, and we, being 17, hadn't thought to ask either. Literally, the first quarter bill showed up, we gave it to our Dad and he said, oh no, I'm not paying for college. Um, what? So, my sis and I cleared out our savings and took it from there. I worked all through college and struggled to maintain great grades and volunteer and get involved in school too. I really had to give up so much of the college experience because I had to work all the time!

My biggest issue was not the payment part, but the fact that my parents never discussed this issue with us. It was not something that I, at 17, even thought to bring up. So please, get your kids involved in this discussion and help them know what you are planning. I think 9th grade is the ideal time to start discussing college tuition.

As a parent, I think that it is my responsibility to let my kids know what to expect. If you choose to kick your kid out at 18, that's fine, but they should really know what's coming. Not only to save up money, but to prepare emotionally, get needed items, etc.

My half-brother (12 yrs younger than me) is now in college. His father has paid his whole way, lodging included, but this has allowed him to get internships, be president of his business fraternity, get fantastic grades and really get the most out of his college experience. He is fully involved without being stressed about the cost.

Overall, I think it depends on the kid. If they are hardworking, appreciative and really making the most of their experience, then I would encourage you to help them with the cost as much as you can. I had to give up unpaid internships in my field to work at a crappy job to earn my tuition. In fact, my senior year, I quit my job, took out extra loans and threw myself into school, volunteering, and a took on a major leadership position. It was the best decision ever. I only wish I had been able to do it earlier.

But, if your child is not appreciating his education, is only partying all the time, and doesn't make the most of their situation, then I would definitely not pay their way. I have a friend whose Dad paid her way but she had to follow three rules: 1) she couldn't live with a boyfriend, 2) she couldn't get a tattoo, and 3) she had to keep her grades up. Fair enough! But the important thing is that she knew what was expected of her before college began.

Sorry for the length of my post, but it is a hot button for me! Good luck with your decision and I think you are totally on the right track simply because you are already thinking about this!

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answers from New York on

I will plan to pay for my kids 100%, because as others said, I see it as an investment in their future, but there are some conditions. My dad paid for me to go to a private undergrad university and it definitely set me up for future success in business. But I also earned it by doing very well academically in high school, getting an honors degree and high SAT scores. When I went for an MBA I paid for it completely by myself. Luckily I was doing well enough to be able to afford it!
That said, I believe in the same philosophy of my kids proving they deserve the investment. If my kids slack and don't perform well in high school, that is another story! Then it would be like throwing $$ away!
Updated to add: I think the parents who promised to pay tuition but then ended up having no $$ is pretty heartbreaking! I was lucky enough to procure enough money for what 2 college educations should cost in 15 years (thanks to some very fortunate circumstances) so I would never promise a free ride to college and then reneg. That's just wrong.

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answers from Tulsa on

Nearly everyone of my friends pay for everything that is not covered by the money the kids saved from working through high school and scholarships. They believe the kids should work if they can do both school and work But if their grades fall they can quit work and concentrate on their education. My friends send them tons of food so they don't have to worry about being hungry, they pay their housing and tuition and fees, etc...everything related to being in college. Not one of my friends kids have graduated with less than a stellar GPA and are doctors, engineers, college professors, dentists, etc...not just simple 4 years degrees, all the way through.

Some of my friends are even helping their married kids go back to school by helping with their bills and food. It is an awesome thing to be able to help your kids this way.

I cannot even begin to contemplate doing this for my grandkids I am raising. We live on SSDI and don't always make it month to month. I appreciate the fact that I did go to college and had financial aid, grants, some loans, some scholarships, etc...if it hadn't been for that free money I would not have been able to even see what college was like.

I think if you are financially able then you can pay at least part of their money. They should not have to worry about having food on the table or wondering if they will have electric on when they get home from classes because the money isn't there due to any number of things that can happen, like job loss, hour cut backs, scheduling conflicts that make them choose work or school, etc...

BTW, my friends kids went to Universities like BYU and Bryn Mawr,not cheap or state schools.
I went and read some of the responses after I posted this reply so I am now editing it to tell you abut my college experience. I wanted to go to college right out of high school and got excepted but my parents said no, there was no money and I was not mature enough, they were right.

So, when I was divorced and a single parent my best friend started going to a local community college and I was envious so she took me up and helped me enroll too. I did so well, I was about 26-28 when I started so I had much more experience in life and had learned to prioritize.

After completing an Associates Degree in Psychology I got a full scholarship to OU in Norman Ok. and promptly moved and got settled in. I hated everything about that university, sorry sooners.

I worked in the Drama department in the costume shop sewing and that was like culture shock....there were students with spikes in their noses, tattoos on their faces, pink and purple stripes in their hair, etc...totally out of my element. I dropped out during Spring Break because it was just not working for me. I was so disappointed, I felt like a failure.

My best friend had received a similar scholarship to OSU and loved Stillwater. She took me up and I loved Stillwater immed. I enrolled that day and got my financial aid transferred. She moved back to OKC, I still lived in Norman, and we met at Baptist Hosp. every morning to drive to school. I went the first week and rented a campus apartment in married student housing since I had a daughter living with me. I knew I was going to live in Stillwater the rest of my life, I had found my home town. She had hurt feelings about moving to OKC so we could ride together and me moving to Stillwater but she rmoved back to Stillwater on next block in married student housing and we remained friends.

I was doing very well and had plans of graduating with 2 different degrees, in May with my BS in Sociology with a minor in Social Work and then take 2 classes in the summer and graduate with a 2nd BA, this one in Psychology. I had already networked my grad program and was a shoe-in for acceptance.

I was working a full time job at an institution for developmentally disabled adults and that was the field my Masters and eventually Doctoral degree were heading. I wanted to be a lobbyist for rights for this particular population and work for the state in the Developmental Disabilities Service Devision of the Department of Human Services as a case manager. My future was bright, grades were good, I had acceptance in my field and credibility.

During my last semester I was attacked and beaten so bad I ended up in the hospital for days. I had PTSD and was never able to return to school, I didn't leave my campus apartment for months except with a few "safe" friends. They eventually evicted me because I was no longer a student or able to pay since FA was not there anymore.

To make a short story even longer, I had some loans. Only about $12,000. I was not able to pay on them, I was debilitated. I was home bound, my daughter went to live with her dad, my life fell apart.

I simply had no financial way to pay my loans back and about 10 years ago I had a frank discussion with a man calling to "make me" make payments. I asked him how much they were and he gave me a huge figure. My loan amount was over $60,000 at that time and the minimum payment is over $1500 a month and that only paid the interest, no actual loan amount.

We never know what the future holds, I took loans to pay for extra, like dependable transportation, a new sewing machine to make our clothes, warm clothing for Winter, you know those silly things we don't really need but just want. I wish with all my heart I could go back and have a second chance to do it differently. I would never take a single cent out in loans.

That's why I feel so stongly that if parents can help they should do what is needed to keep kids from getting loans or even working if possible. The kids might have something happen and it will be with them the rest of their lives.

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answers from Modesto on

I honestly dont know how much it costs to go to school, I just know it's quite a bit. A lot of my tenants are in college and some of their books cost 300 bucks. Since this is a low income community all of my student tenants are having school paid by grants and federal aid... it doesnt cover books tho only the tuition. Most of the grants are for 7k for 4 semesters.
If I had the money to help pay for my kids education I would have helped them. Mine went into the Army instead.
There is a lot to applying for the grants, financial aid, and loans... it can be a deterent. You have to educate yourself on what is available to get the most out of the programs and less out of your pocket.

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answers from Nashville on

i would reather pay on the tuition directly to the school. the extras are their thing. i am not going to pay for my kids to party. they can work part time to help pay the bills. R.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

While I do believe that we should help as much as we can, I also think that there are much better ways to get a college education other than sending them off to a brick and mortar university. We have way more options today than were available 20 years ago. We do not intend to send our children off to college and pay for their tuition. They have so many other options that we are willing to entertain. They can get much of their degree at home in distance learning or dual credit at the local community college. Some degrees require some courses on campus, but many do not. So, that would depend on the field of study. But, to answer your question, I do not think our existence should be about paying for their college.

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answers from New York on

For me, college is not an option, so I feel that we (his parents) should pay for it.

That said, he can earn his own spending money by having some kind of job on campus (or maybe a work study job that would go towards tuition but then I'd give him the same in spending money).

The way I see it, if I were to send him to a private elementary school, I wouldn't expect him to pay, so since college is manditory in our family, I don't expect him to pay.

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answers from Dover on

I think it really depends on your finances.

If I could afford to pay my son's tuition I would. He had to take out student loans and I am taking care of the small payments that are due right now (its some of the interest and is less than $100 a month...he's in his second year). I also help w/ his books. If I am able to help when the loans become do, I still will. If I had gotten the loan for him, I would have larger payment now that I can't afford and he can get a better rate than I can.

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answers from Washington DC on

IF my child continues to be an excellent student and do the right things, it will be a full ride, but she will have to work summers. I won't pay for someone to go drinking and doing drugs like my SIL. We have a 529 educational plan for her that will save some money tax wise, but we are waiting to make sure the new tax laws are still beneficial. We heard the 529 law expires in 2012, but I am not sure.

I worked and earned scholarships, but not enough to cover room and board. I ended up $40,000 in debt and it took 10 years to pay it off. I rode the bus, even in two feet of snow, to my jobs(plural). I ended up up physically ill and making payments on medical treatemtent. I ended up getting worse grades by spending so much time commuting and working. I would not allow her to struggle that much.

My husband's parents are the biggest enablers I have ever met. Seriously.
The more you screw up, the bigger the checks are! He just drank through college and became an alcoholic. What a waste. Then he grew up, in spite of them, and got another degree with the highest GPS of anyone. He was the only one to get off their dole because he got healthy.

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answers from San Francisco on

I completely agree with you.

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answers from Phoenix on

It's great to see all these answers. I wanted to pay for my son's college (only $2800/year for BA) but my hubby thinks he should pay for it himself and is pressuring him to save his money for colllege.

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answers from Modesto on

our tax dollars are paying for kids to go to college that we don't even know, so I do believe it is helpful to finance your own childs education..... but only if they are serious about school. If they are only going to please you or because they want to remain living at home for a free ride and seem ambitionless.. I would say they don't deserve financial culpability from mom and dad.

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answers from Norfolk on

My Mom divorced my Dad when we were very little but she saved up all the child support payments for our collage education. I changed majors, so my degree took 5 years instead of 4. I still worked on campus at work/study jobs only had 1 year of collage loans to pay off when I got a job in my profession. My sister got her degree in 4 years.
My husband did all loans for his college, and it took him a long time to pay it all off.
One of my Mom's friends was a family from Panama. They had 3 girls all 5 years apart. What they did was help with the kids college, but as each girl finished and got a job in her profession, they each also helped with money for the next sister. They all made it through and had very little debt to carry since they worked through it as a family team. I'm not sure many other family s I know could or would work things out in the same way, but it was a brilliant plan.
Some of my friends made it through school but they had crushing amounts of debt to deal with once they were finished. If the hiring situation when you graduate is not good, it can be very hard to make payments when you are working 2 or 3 McDonald's jobs while you are trying to interview.
We have a college fund set up for our son. We will try to pay for his collage so he emerges debt free. That right there is the best graduation gift we can give him.

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answers from Knoxville on

I do think that the kids should pay for some of it whether it be a scholarship, grants or loans. I also agree that when you pay for the classes yourself you do better because you do not want to waste your hard earned money. I do know that several years ago when my husband was graduating HS, his parents had not planned on paying for college at all. When he filled out financial aid papers it was all based on how much money his parents made. Since they made above a given amount he could not get any grants or free money to pay for school. They would not let him do a student loan himself because he was under 18 at the time and not able to enter into a legal binding contract. I would talk to someone at your child(rens) school to find out how that all works now. Be aware that since they are gov't loans, things may change and info you get now may not be accurate next year or several years from now if your children are young right now.

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answers from Tampa on

My husband and I are both still paying our student loans back. We will do everything in our power to allow our son to start his adult life without this much debt. I worked the whole time I was in college, but still sometimes did not make enough to pay my know, what I did? I took out cash advances on credit cards to pay my monthly bills....sometimes I took enough to pay that same credit card's minimum payment. The ironic thing is that I have excellent credit and have for years. (I always paid my bills on time). I agree that there is no way I will raise my son so that he will feel entitled to everything like so many teens do today....but we will have a deal that is achievable if he works hard. I had some friends whose parents had them on a GPA/time limit type of schedule...basically, they will pay 4 years for your Bachelors...if the student slacked and ended up taking 5years, then that 5th year was on the student's dime. Also, GPA needed to remain high. I think something like that is very fair. I want my son to start his adult life with a cleaner slate than me.

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answers from San Francisco on

Whichever you decide - to make them pay all or you pay a certain part - be clear with the kids about your expectations. My parents instilled that I was going to college and then when I got acceptance letters I was informed there was no money, not a penny available. I got very lucky. I got some student loans which was nothing like what the kids are getting today and a wonderful aunt who gave my parents money for my education. These combined sources covered tuition, room & board. I worked and provided the rest. I have never forgotten that my parents never told me there was no money until the last minute.
For our kids we hope to pay tuition, room & board. They pay the rest. My oldest is a sophomore in college. He works as a waiter. I also think working teaches real life skills, like what it means to be an employee. Sometimes you can't do things with your friends because you need to work.
I know some believe you should have your retirement covered before paying for your kids college education. Not the case in our house. We support my husband's parents (cultural expectations), kids are in private schools (we believe in education and the public schools can't cut it in our opinion), and we hope to pay for college. We expect to retire around 70, if lucky. I tell my kids they can pass me around. All my money went to their education. I am only partially joking.

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answers from Reading on

Here is what my parents did for us - We split the tuition 50/50, but the kids got credit for any loans, scholarships or grants we recieved. We were responsible for our own textbooks, lab fees etc.

In retrospect, it was a nice way to segue us into "you're an adult now and need to start taking care of yourself" but not completely leaving us out there on our own financially.

I don't believe that parents are obligated to help pay for their children's college tuition, but it sure is nice to help out a little if you can. I am a big believer in making your kids work(even at a young age) for what they want so they don't grow up feeling entitled and that the world owes them something just for existing. Just one of my personal pet peeves.

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answers from Memphis on

My opinion is it's not my obligation to pay for their college but if I can help I will. I too think kids value their education more if they are the ones paying for it or earning the scholarships/grants to pay for it. That is why I love colleges like College of the Ozarks where students earn their tuition by working at the school.

I will fill out the FASFA to help them get financial aide or assistance but I don't feel I OWE it to my children to pay for their education. And my kids don't expect me to, they are thrilled if I can help but they don't expect me to give it all to them.

My nephew is a great example. Twice my sister has paid for his tuition and twice he has dropped out. So they told him that in the future if he goes to college he has to pay for it, however, if he passes all his classes they will reimburse him. This is working out well as he is about to finish his first semester!!

Aren't there some programs you can take advantage of that allows you to put money in without paying taxes on it for his education later? That might be something you could look into as well.

Good thing you're thinking of these things now because they grow up so very fast.

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answers from Atlanta on

I agree with your sentiment that those whose parents footed the bill tended to be more lax about the academic aspect (myself included). I would probably require my kids to pay for college themselves and then upon graduation cover as many loans as we were financially able to relieve them of that burden.

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answers from Jackson on

When the time comes, fill out the FAFSA forms, your grand children will probably qualify for grants simply because of low income. They may choose to complete their 1st 2 years at a Community College. Or. if they have good grades and personal ambition, they may receive grants and scholarships at a 4 year college.

It's true In the first 2 years "free" money is scarce, but there is some out there.

Once they choose a major, as a Junior and Senior there are a multitude of scholarships and grants programs available. There are many work study programs that will pay for a large portion of education.

It's up to the student to seek and find. Don't fall for online offers for "free college" they are generally super expensive. Apply to online programs that have an e-mail address that ends in .edu or .org.

Many corporations offer scholarships to students as Juniors and Seniors and Graduate students who are majoring in a subject area that is beneficial to their corporate mission statement.

I hope this eases your mind.
Best wishes

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