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  • Maria Ann Geffers

Should You Require Your Child to Contribute to Their College Expenses?

This is an AGE OLD Question…. That not even Solomon in his wisdom could answer.


The only viable answer is, “It Depends.”

Some parents’ believe they have a responsibility to pay for their child’s education. Others feel that everyone should pay for their own education. Some parents would like to pay 100% of the bill, but can’t. There’s no simple answer. Some children do much better in college if they pay at least some of the bill.

Other students don’t have the time management or stress management skills to handle working, attending class, and studying. Each child is unique.

So we put together some information that might help you make your own decision. Remember each student and family is different.

Here are the facts:

1. Children that contribute to their own educational expenses receive better grades. One study shows that the greater the percentage of college expenses paid for by the parents, the lower the student’s grades.

Students that don’t contribute monetarily to their education spend less time studying and more time on leisure activities than those students with part-time jobs or student loans.

However, graduation rates are higher for students that don’t have to pay toward college. For those that do contribute to their own education, financial issues are more likely to cause them to withdraw prior to graduation. The graduation rate for students that don’t receive any financial help from mom and dad are significantly lower still. The Key Word is ANY. Most student receive help either through grants, work study programs, and parental support.

There are some students that find the distraction of work and school to be too much to handle. Remember, you know your child’s strength, weakness, and possible disability.

2. Sometimes, it’s the only way. Not all parents have the financial means to put their children through college. Some students must contribute toward the expenses or choose not to attend college at all. Although we do not advocate this method, your child may have more financial aid opportunities after sitting out of school for a year.

3. A college education is an investment. A few parents view a college education as a

vacation or a toy. The resulting attitude is, “Let him pay for it himself.” But an education is an investment in the future. Few children are able to financially handle this type of an investment without incurring debt that will dog them for a decade or more.



4. Students that pay at least some of the expense are more highly motivated. A student naturally takes school more seriously when he has to foot at least part of the bill. It’s no longer just mom and dad’s money. It can serve as a wakeup call to take responsibility for one’s life. No one likes to waste money, either.

5. Consider your own experience. Did your parent’s pay for all of your college education? How well did it work out for you? If you didn’t go to college, try to imagine paying for some of your education yourself. How do you think your kids would fare? Would they take college more seriously? Or would the added responsibility be too much of a burden?

6. Will your retirement plans be negatively impacted? It’s easy to think, “I’ll just have to work for a couple of more years.” Are you certain that will be an option? Your health may decline between now and then. Your employment opportunities may be significantly reduced. Think about your own future, too. It is important to consult with a financial planner or accountant to receive the best advice.

Remember….The decision to pay for your child’s education is a personal one, based on your beliefs, finances, and your child. Many children will perform better in school and take their education more seriously if they contribute financially. What will be best for your child? How will your retirement plans be affected by this significant expense?


Tom & Maria of Career and College Counselors can help both adults and students choose the Right Career based on an assessment that will help you answer the essential questions: Who Am I? Where Do I Shine? And What Is My Purpose? We are “COUNSELORS AT YOUR KITCHEN TABLE.” Contact us today for a FREE Consultation!


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