Wednesday, February 13, 2008

College Obligations

I asked the question a couple of weeks ago if parents are obligated to pay for college? And if they provide college can they expect a return for their investment? Also I posted a poll over whether parents should pay for college or not.

We feel that college is important and we'll be paying 100% of our children's college needs. This is our opinion, please do not say that it's wrong. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and choice. We feel this way because a college education was provided for us. We did not flunk out or party too much even though our parents contributed to our education. Instead we focused and did well because our parents expected it of us. And their contribution to our education was grade based. We performed adequately enough to go to good graduate programs in our respective fields. I would assume the same would be true for our children. Another idea is we might make them take out some student loans which we will pay off contigent on them not partying and flunking out. This way they understand the seriousness and severity of their actions.

But from a very early age we will instill in our children financial responsibility. Both DH and I have had CC from our teenage years before we even entered high school as a mechanism of financial responsibility. And we've both never paid a fee or interest on a CC. Thus I feel the way we were raised made us more responsible adults financially and emotionally. We were coached early and often about money and responsibility by our parents.

Thus, we hope our children will want to go to college. If they choose to not go, then that is also acceptable. We will not force them into a career that makes them unhappy. After all they have to live with their decisions.

Also we feel that while we provide college, it's important that we save for our retirement so we don't feel that our children need to "pay us back" for our support. I believe that no child asks to be born, therefore as a parent you have an obligation for their clothes, food, shelter, and education until 18. It does not need to be fancy or new, but you are obligated to supply these basics willingly and without expectation of a "Return" in the future.

I do understand that some parents cannot afford college, either through unfortunate circumstances, late realization, or just inability. However, I do feel that parents have a responsibility to help their children go to college by supporting them emotionally, guiding them in finding scholarships/grants/loans, and explaining the fiscal responsibilities that come with going to college. What responsibilities? Well explaining that student loans need to be paid back with interest, and not spent foolishly. Showing them what a CC is, how it's properly used, how finance charges accrue, late fees, and why CC companies are at colleges being given out to students. It's not free money. When I meet students who actually thought CC were free money, I blame the parents. They sent their children into the world completely naive and uninformed.

My kids will be neither. By the time they go to college they'll have paid bills, budgeted, and learned basic investing skills. However, after 1 CC, I think students begin to understand CC. And at that point it's their fault for debt.

Anyway that's how I view college obligations. There is more to college than just funding it. It's also in the preparation to handle college maturely. And so if you can't fund college, you should prepare your child to handle it maturely.


Chief Family Officer said...

I think you make an excellent point about college support being more than financial. Also, it seems that people tend to think that what they experienced was best. Personally, I'm fine with paying for all of my kids' college expenses, but my husband and I have chosen to send them to expensive private schools instead of saving for college. We'll save some but we think it is more important for them to have a solid education in a good social environment, which they won't get at public schools where we live. It's also been our experience that with the possible exception of that first job out of college, where you went to college doesn't matter all that much for your career. It matters more for grad school, but good grades and good standardized test scores can balance that out. So assuming our kids don't get scholarships to an Ivy League school, we'll encourage them to attend an affordable state school and work hard. I'd love to pay for private school and college, but then we wouldn't be able to save for retirement!

Jim said...

The way I see college is you have to want to do it. College does not make you successful, only you can become the best you can be. It is my intention to save for my kids college education but they have to want it, not what I want for them. Passion for what you do in life is what will make you successful and if college is part of that, it is where I will be able to help them succeed. My parents did not pay for my college because they did not believe in it. My dad learned a trade (mechanic) at 16 and did that for 20 years and my mom flunked out her first semester. College for me was very low on their list, but it was something I wanted for me. Without their assistance I applied for scholarships and financial aide and got in to a state school. It cost me my savings and about the same amount in student loans. My wife completely borrowed her way through school. It is what it is for us and we will work to ensure that our kids won't have as much of a burden on them when it comes to college costs.

I'm Grace. said...

I find myself firmly in both camps. I did get some good scholarships but my parents paid for everything the scholarships didn't cover. So I do feel an obligation to cover my children's college expenses. As it happens, most of my daughters aren't really college material, and they had serious emotional challenges during their teen years. So, like CFO, I chose, for some of them, to spend their college money on private schools or intensive therapy. That meant that when they finally did decide to go to college (one waited until age 30!), I helped pay but they had to foot most of the bill. It also meant starting out at community colleges. Right now, I'm supporting my granddaughter in college, but again, it's in community college first.

Actually, I firmly believe that undergraduate work can take place anywhere--you don't need an Ivy League education until graduate school, and then, your chance of getting a scholarship is actually greater if you come from a podunk school.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I hope you're not disappointed when your kids don't turn out exactly how you envision them.

Living Almost Large said...

If they chose not to go, fine, I just hope that they do what they want.

More importantly, I hope to instill the values of respecting money and living within ones means Anonymous! Sorry that it's an expectation that they become a responsible, caring, trustworthy adult.

So yes, I do hope that they learn good financial habits, do not steal, cheat, or lie. However most people want that for their children.

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