Parents are often faced with the decision of whether or not to help pay for their child’s college education. If you ask high school students whether mom and dad should pay for college, you’ll hear most of them shout "Yes!" But should parents be expected to foot the bill?
If parents have a comfortable salary with reasonable household expenses and are financially able to cover tuition and other college expenses, there’s probably no reason not to help. Unfortunately, in today’s economy, many parents are not in a position to do this without dipping into their savings or retirement funds.
There are some benefits to students who are financially responsible for their educational investment. So, whether you're a parent who may be considering taking out a second mortgage to help pay for your child's education or a college-bound student who may need to take on some college payments, consider some of these benefits for students who take on all or some of their educational expenses.
Students who are financially responsible for some portion of their degrees could be more likely to take ownership of their education. They may be less likely to perform poorly in class or withdraw from a class, knowing that they’ll have to pay to re-take the course again. A student attending on mom and dad’s dime may not worry about wasting the money or the time.
Students who contribute to the cost of a college education may be more inclined to finish their degrees as quickly as possible. They may be less likely to change majors, whereas students with parents who are footing the bills may not hesitate to check out other curriculum and career options, prolonging their studies for additional semesters or years.
Students who pay some of their college bills may emerge from college already knowing how to best balance life and work. Students who have not secured enough financial aid and scholarships to cover their college expenses may need to work part-time or full-time while in school. This not only teaches responsibility, but also how to balance studies, work, and social events. These skills will benefit them in the years beyond college, as well.
Students who are given the responsibility of paying for their college educations may graduate with a sense of pride knowing that they played a huge role in financing their accomplishment. They are likely to be confident in their abilities, have the skills needed to live balanced lives and understand the value of their college degrees.
If you're a parent, you shouldn't necessarily feel bad about being unable to help pay for college. If you can contribute, that’s wonderful and your child will be grateful. However, if you are not in a position to assist without jeopardizing your own financial stability, don’t over-extend yourself out of guilt or feeling like you are required to pay for your child's college courses. Remember, people can take out a loan for college, but not for retirement. In the end, do what is best for you and your family’s financial well-being.
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