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paying for your kid's college

Last post Fri, Feb 4 2011 1:44 PM by zohnerfarms. 21 replies.
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  • Mon, Dec 20 2010 3:45 PM

    • MamaJ
    • Top 100 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Nov 5 2009
    • Posts 963

    paying for your kid's college

    My husband and I are diligently setting aside money to help our son pay for college. (He's ten years old - a B student but very good about studying and has already started talking about "when I go to college.") I think that the right kind of a college education can be a very wise investment in the future. But here's some background:

    My husband's family didn't help him with college costs. He left college after two years and spent the next couple years working full-time to pay off student loans for a degree he never got. He's still a little bitter that his parents never offered to help.

    I went to undergrad, mostly on scholarships but with some help from my family, and then took student loans to graduate with a masters degree in music performance. About the time I graduated, I developed a medical condition which prevents me from playing my instrument. So I had to get a job in an unrelated field, and work very hard to pay off a degree that I never used... I went back to school while I was working to get a management degree, and paid for the whole thing as I went.

    When I was in undergrad I saw an awful lot of kids who were at school on their parents' dime who just piddled it all away. Out late partying, playing video games all day... Compared to when I went back to school, and saw kids/young adults who were working their way through, paying their own way, taking the whole thing very seriously.

    My question is - is it possible for me to fund my son's college education, but prevent him from developing some sense of entitlement? He has already begun saving for college, on his own. (He puts about 80% of any gift he receives into the bank, and has never taken a cent out.) I'm wondering about going halfsies on the cost, but I don't want him to start "in the hole" with student loans, if we have the means to help him. Maybe make our financial assistance contingent on grades?

    Parents of older kids - how have you handled this situation?



  • Mon, Dec 20 2010 5:11 PM In reply to

    Re: paying for your kid's college

    My question is - is it possible for me to fund my son's college education, but prevent him from developing some sense of entitlement?

    Yes, teach him he is not entitled to a free, college education via your checkbook and when the time comes, there will be high standards to uphold. It also helps if he generally doesn't have a sense of entitlement while growing up (but it sounds like that is not the case). Smile

    My parents helped me with college and I am forever and EXTREMELY grateful. I followed all their rules and met their expectations (good grades and graduate in 4 years). I never felt entitled because I never felt it was MY money.

    My DHs parents did the same thing. But...when DH failed a class, he had to pay the tuition back to his dad. In cash. And he had to move home with a curfew. He only failed one class, LOL.

    I work with some college kids and the truth is, some are partying and doing poorly...and have huge student loans! Their parents aren't paying but it doesnt' seem to matter. It's the child's upbringing that will dictate how he or she will treat the college experience, whether paid for by mom and dad or paid for by loans.

    I think what you are doing is wonderful and if you can afford it, that's great.

  • Mon, Dec 20 2010 6:10 PM In reply to

    • Becky
    • Top 100 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Apr 23 2007
    • Posts 574

    Re: paying for your kid's college

    Teach him that college is a priveledge not a right. Also if he has to help pay for some of his college expenses that is good as well. He should work summers to help make money to pay the cost. And there is nothing wrong with him having some college debt when he graduates. Student loans are  a reality, and there is nothing that says that a college education is has to be provided or that it will be. Help as much as you can, but do not mortgage your retirement.

    And as for it being the childs upbringing that will dictate how he or she will treat the college experience, I do not agree. You can teach a child the right things to do, show him the way to go and how to handle money. He can KNOW how to study and learn, but .... bottom line is once a child reaches a certain age they will do what they want.

  • Tue, Dec 21 2010 10:01 AM In reply to

    • MamaJ
    • Top 100 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Nov 5 2009
    • Posts 963

    Re: paying for your kid's college

    Thank you Erika and Becky, for your insights! Erika, you're right - I've also seen kids take out student loans and fritter the education away. It's not always on mom and dad's dime!


    And there is nothing wrong with him having some college debt when he graduates. Student loans are  a reality, and there is nothing that says that a college education is has to be provided or that it will be. Help as much as you can, but do not mortgage your retirement.

    We will definitely not be sacrificing our retirement in the name of funding college!  Wink But nor do I want my son to start in debt if it can be avoided. We have a very good community college nearby, one that offers "3+1" degrees with some of the local universities, so we're already starting to encourage at least two years there. I think that will help rein in the costs significantly... But who really knows. This is still a good eight years away. No telling what he will want to study at that point...  

  • Wed, Dec 22 2010 9:23 PM In reply to

    Re: paying for your kid's college

    My child is not older; she's 6.  I still ponder these same things.  The only thoughts I've come up with so far is that we (parents) will allow her to live at home, rent-free, if she's in school and/or working.  Full-time school and part-time working or full-time working with part-time school; either is fine with me.  I've also thought an incentive might be to have DD pay for her own school but reimburse her a portion based on her grade.  C and below -- 0 reimbursement (up to 75% reimbursement for a class retaken in order to achieve a better/passing grade); B -- 50% reimbursement; A -- 100% reimbursement. 

    My goal is to spend the next several years touting the benefits of community/junior college and the many wonderful 2+2 programs they now have that greatly reduce the cost of higher education.  I think by teaching our kids about money as they are younger, then we are starting the foundation for when they are faced with the costs of college, living on their own, etc.

    Officially Recognized Stretchpert in the General forum
  • Wed, Dec 22 2010 9:29 PM In reply to

    Re: paying for your kid's college

    When my adopte3d son went to collage we only paid a third of it he had to pay the rest,parents really are not obliged to pay for collage but some of it I can see for help because it is a pain and many people cannot send the school period plain of no money period I never paid half only for some of the books he had we never had the money wish his real mother got sober enough to help him but she did not so I directed omar to the collage nigro fund they really helped him along thank god for that he died in 2006 and he was the bested sue chef ever he went to school for that but died after the degree.

  • Thu, Dec 23 2010 11:53 AM In reply to

    • alexss
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Jun 23 2008
    • Posts 134

    Re: paying for your kid's college

    In my family, going to college was neither a right or a privledge, it was an expectation, both on the student's side and on the parent's side.  That meant that the student was to study and get good grades on school work and tests and do as well as possible on the ACTs SATs whatever testing for college admissions.  Being active in the community with an eye for college admitance was also important, as was finding scholarships and learning before application what scholarships and grants were available and what was required to earn them.  It also meant working for the family business, for pay, from the time I was relatively young, with most of that money being put into a savings account for college--only small amounts kept out for an occasional purchase, and living on what my parents budgetted for me  for school trips, clothing, etc. 

    In return for working with them to keep my costs down, and my savings up, and in return for spending summers, winter and spring breaks at home working, instead of partying on some beach with my friends, and in return for keeping my grades up at school, they paid for what the scholarships didn't cover. 

    My siblings have told their kids that if they can get full ride scholarships, they (the parents) will pay for vehicles. 

    Loans, while an option, are an option of last resort, and are the kid's responsibility--and should be kept to a very bare minimum for obvious reasons.  (That said, I saw a brief news report where parents, who had cosigned, had been left with their son's student loans to pay off after his death, which means that any cosigners should have life insurance on the person they co-sign for.... cosigning is a whole other kettle of fish beyond college funding).


  • Fri, Dec 24 2010 7:31 AM In reply to

    Re: paying for your kid's college

     I think it's great that you want to help out with college.  My oldest is 13 so we have not been through that yet.  My parents helped as much as they could, but I paid for most of college my self.  I worked 30+ hours per week waitressing at a senior living center (more pay than regular waitressing  but no tips) and had one credit card that I used when I would sign up for classes.  Then I would pay off my credit card as soon as I could.  I went to a community college and lived at home.  I'm sure there are kids who pay for college themselves and then party all the time, but that's not what I saw.  The school I went to was not that way, anyway, it was mostly older students going back to school.  I graduated with a 3.75 average out of 4, pretty good for working as much as I did I think.  I have told our kids that I want to help, but that does not mean that they won't contribute.  We have two boys, four years apart, and they are both very smart.  I expect them to be able to get some kind of scholarship and will encourage them to find them.  

  • Fri, Dec 24 2010 2:29 PM In reply to

    Re: paying for your kid's college

    Parents of older kids - how have you handled this situation?

    I saw the same thing when I was in college - kids going skiing on their Pell Grants, etc. 

    We told our children as they grew up that we would pay for their housing if they had a scholarship. We did not want them to live in a fire-trap to save money.  We feel they worked harder for scholarships, since it was their own money they were saving.

    Oldest DD went to a state university in Utah when we lived in Idaho, with a scholarship that gave her the equivalent of in-state tuition. We paid for her housing in the least expensive units of university housing.  She married in her second year of college, so she & DH handled it after that.  We provided a family car for her to use at college, paid the insurance, & helped with gas. She helped me bottle extra vegetables & fruit from our garden for her to take to college with her to cut her food bill - the university was 2 hours drive away, so she would come home once a month to exchange empty jars for full & to do some washing.  She also drove home when the computer labs were full & she couldn't get on to print off a paper.  She came home & used ours.  This DD went to college without a computer, since the university provided a computer lab.  When she married, DSIL had a computer, & she still had a full pantry of home-canned foods, so they started off ok.  DSIL had school loans, tho, & DD got right on paying those off as quickly as possible.  She got rid of 2 of them while they were still in college, but are paying on the other, the old slow way.

    DS went to the state university in Idaho, and we paid his housing for the first year.  After that, he served an LDS mission, and when he came back, he attended the extension site for the same university & lived at home while he saved money, then went back to the main campus.  He worked as an RA to pay for his housing - - his younger sister was already at the same university & was an RA there, so helped him apply, etc  He was recruited from mechanical engineering into nuclear engineering for the new state university program at the "other" state university an hour from our home.  He changed programs, & scholarships paid for almost all of the rest of his education, through his masters, including a housing stipend for he & his wife after he got married. We provided a family car, paid the insurance, & helped with gas.

    Middle DD applied for 32 scholarships & was awarded 8. I remember distinctly the high school secretary making fun of me for paying $62 for transcripts at $2 a pop to apply for all those scholarships.  I told her that DD & I had an understanding that I would pay for the transcript for any scholarship application she completed. The secretary thought it was a waste of money, but she was wrong.  DH was laid off for a year while DD was in college.  She was an RA at the state university to pay for her housing, and graduated from undergraduate with zero debt.  She graduated from medical school in 2010. We provided a family car, paid the insurance, & helped with gas for the 8 years.  In medical school, we occasionally covered a surprise fee for her, but she mostly did med school on med loans.

    Youngest DD attended one of the state universities in Utah, after we moved, & she graduated from a Utah high school. She received a Presidential scholarship that paid for most of her tuition for her first 4 years. We paid her housing for the first 2 years, then she moved off campus & began to pay her own.  She works at Kmart to pay her housing. She drives a family car, on which we pay the insurance, & help with gas.  For the last two semesters, we have paid her tuition, since she is graduating with a major & 2 minors, and it took 5 years, so this year is not covered with the scholarship.  She can pay for her own housing & food now from her job, but it is not adequate to cover tuition.  We just paid the last tuition for her.

    None of our children had a sense of entitlement.  They grew up knowing that DH's parents paid for his first year, then expected him to have scholarships, which he did.  I had a scholarship for the first year, then worked my way through.  DH took out 3 student loans, I did not.  It took me 8 years to finish an associate degree in nursing, but I graduated without debt.  The kids were in high school when we made the last payment on DH's loans, & I think that helped them all to see that loans were not a good way to go. They knew we would help as we could, but that we were not flush with money & it would not be a free ride.

  • Wed, Jan 5 2011 4:59 PM In reply to

    Re: paying for your kid's college

    I'll probably sound like a curmudgeon, but I don't believe that college educations live up to what they are cracked up to be. I had two sons who went to college...neither of them used their degrees to gain their fields of employment. College expenses continue to climb for no apparent reason: the quality of education is not increasing, and in the current market, there are thousands of graduates with useless degrees searching for work, especially teaching degrees. It takes years in our area for a graduate to get hired as a teacher.  Unless your son goes into a highly specialed field like one of the sciences, why not investigate a trade school, or research how he can become a plumber or an elctrician (two high paying fields)?


    Did you see the recent report on CNBC about young people drowing in college debt with no foreseeable way out from under? It was horrifying. And college loans are NOT eligible for bankrupcy...you can never, ever get out from under.

    The only ones who seem to benefit from college are the high paid administrators and professors who are tenured.


    excuse me...I have to climb off my soap box now Wink




    "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." Ps. 139:14
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