Paying for Our Children’s College Tuition: He Says She Says

Dress: c/o Lollipop Moon; Headband: Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
He says: “We can pay for their school. Especially if we just have two kids.”
She says: “They can get scholarships, grants, and/or loans. It builds character.”
What say ye?

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  1. Well, I know the American is very very different from our’s here in Australia, but I’m with you. Both of our parents paid for stuff/school/etc until we’d finished high school, then we were “on our own” – with the knowledge that they were there still to support us. But it most definitely encourages independance and valuable life skills. Don’t just abandon them though, leaving them high and dry and penniless. Support as needed in ways they will actually appreciate – paying for flights home, giving book vouchers as surprise gifts, etc.

  2. I think I must preface; this opinion comes from me, a girl that had to pay for her own college 100%, had to work 60 hrs a week waitressing WHILE in college to pay my bills such as (EVERY bill..gas, insurance, books, paper, pencils, EVERYTHING)AND I finished college in 3 years becuase it was on my dime, there was no free ride, I wanted my education, I appreciated my education, and I worked harder to learn more because I was I think there is no harm and a heck of a lotta merit in one paying for their own education..and for the record I think I turned out to be pretty successful (still paying off my college loans…LOL!)

  3. Ultimately, it’ll be a combination of the two, especially if tuitions stay so insanely high! I got a scholarship for undergrad and still took loans to cover extraneous expenses. My husbands family saved for his education and he still needed loans in medical school. I say save what you can and be prepared to help your kids take out loans at some point.

  4. I say both. I got scholarships and my parents helped out with the rest. BTW, I am reading EVERYTHING on your blog since I know you researched the crap out of everything… I am now reaping the benefits of your hard work. Thanks girl! 🙂

  5. I go with what she says! Our daughter worked her tail off all during Jr High and High School and earned a full ride. Our boys dinked around and barely graduated and have either paid for their own schooling or they took advantage of employer paid tuition. Both ways built character because they all had to work for it :0)

  6. Ooh, pick me! Pick me! 🙂
    I am currently a junior in college, and I have received no financial help from my parents since I entered college, aside from an occasional meal, my cell phone bill, and my mom paid for my flu shot last year lol. Here’s my situation: single mom with 5 kids, 3 still at home. I got married after my first year, so I suppose that has to count for some kind of financial support, although we’re both in college. I have worked at least one job since I was 15, sometimes having 3 or 4 at a time. Right now I’m down to 2 and my husband has the same. We have payed for everything through scholarships and grants (we do have a loan out, but that was because some medical issue came up and we just didn’t have the savings built up yet.. but we’re only 20 so there’s really nothing we could do about it). We paid for over 75% of our wedding, also. I have to say, students who don’t work while in college have no idea what the real world is like. Also, kids who parents are paying have no idea what a sacrifice it is. When we have kids someday, we plan to pay for the dorm and probably the meal plan. In addition, we’ll continue to provide cell phone and car insurance until graduation. Some of my friends have family members who send them a gift card or cash in the mail for food and that kind of thing. I hope we will be fortunate enough to do that for our kids.

  7. I say both! 🙂

    I work at a college (I’m in many roles, but overall, I am a counselor/advisor). Not that this makes me all knowing, but just my perspective!

    I think scholarships/grants are first. Teaching a child to work hard to pay for their own school is priceless. It builds transferable skills that can never be taken away. Additionally, it gives the child/student ownership and a personal investment into their education. I have noticed SOME students that their parents are paying for school, just do not care.

    Loans/Parent pay – this one is challenging for me. I had to take out loans as my parents could not pay. I work with students whose parents cannot afford to pay for any of their college.

    From the college counselor part of me, do some of both if you can afford. Make the child/student pay for some (with a job or loans) and then the parent match that amount. As a hopefully someday future parent, however I will first pay of my own student loans, and then if I can afford would do what I could to help my child pay for school.

  8. I do think that grants and scholarships are great and that going through the process does build character (especially when being able to pay depends on keeping up your grades)–I put myself through college primarily with these. However, I would prefer to be able to help my daughter enough so that she doesn’t have to get loans. So I guess I’m somewhere in the middle.
    I have very few loans compared to most people I know out of college, but still, if my daughter does her part in getting good grades, applying for scholarships, etc. I feel like it is sort of my part to help out with at least some of the rest. That is if she wants to go to college–I will be happy to help in the same way if she wants to do something else.

  9. Hubby and I both agree with what “she says.” It’s what we both had to do. We agree with scholarship and grants but we wont allow them to take out educational loans. It will set them back too much. BTW, I love lil J’s hair accessories. So cute. Do you make them?

  10. I have five children, so I can’t afford to pay completely for all five to attend college. On the other hand, I had to take out loans to get through college myself. I don’t want that for my children. I think our general plan is to encourage them to work for scholarships and grants, and we will help supplement the rest of whatever they need. We have college savings plans for all five. I want them to work for what they get so they feel accomplishment, but I don’t want them to work themselves to death for it and feel like they have to quit school to make a living.

  11. DH had a full athletic D1 scholarship for undergrad and grad (he redshirted); I however had college loans. We prefer DH’s situation and we’ve decided we and our kids will not go into debt for college. We will be grooming our kids athletically and academically to get full scholarships.

  12. I think the whole world has changed and the way we think about college, jobs, housing, education – indeed all things tied to the New Economy – has to change too.

    By the time our kids are college-age, I don’t think scholarships, loans, etc. will be like they are now, and the education system may be even more broken than it seems to be now. $100k plus for college to get a $35k/yr job?? Even as a college graduate (and future grad student), I am not convinced college is and will be The Way for our kids.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think it is requisite the way a high school diploma once was, so an undergrad degree will be the starting point. But I remain unconvinced that it’s the direction we should be headed given this stupid Great Recession.

  13. We have a savings account set up for our daughter. We put money in it each week when my husband is paid. Any money that is gifted to her by family members is also put into that account. Whatever is in that account at the time she is ready for college is what she will have towards her college education. As for the rest, well she’ll have to figure it out on her own. We will help her apply for all the grants and scholarships that she possibly can. If she chooses to do 2 years at a community college before going on to a 4 year, then she is welcome to stay at home with us. Other than that the bulk of the burden will be her own.

    I didn’t have any help from my parents with college. My husband received a full ride scholarship to community college and when he transferred to a 4 year college he recieved a LOAN from his parents to cover that because his parents are very “anti interest.”

  14. I’d say make them apply for scholarships and grants, and then if possible have the parent pay for the rest! Or at least have the parents loan money to the kid, so that the child isn’t paying interest or getting screwed over like SO many people are these days with school loans.

    I think loans are HORRIBLE to take out. I am in college now and definitely don’t plan on taking out loans, ever. i don’t have parents that can support me in any way financially, though, so I’m finding money anywhere I can and working full-time!

  15. Well I say it depends on where they are when they get to college,
    In my case my dad paid for my first 2 yrs which I’m grateful for but then I got married and so gained financial independence and I got grants and loans and an extra job to pay for the rest. I’m hoping to contribute towards our kids futures that is IF they even want to go to university.
    My hubby is a carpenter and so didn’t need uni but he earns WAY more than I do and is happy in his job, I say whatever path they choose we’ll help them get there.

  16. My parents set up scholarship funds to help pay for college for my brother and I, and paid for the rest. The funds were only enough for about 4-5 years of college, so I was HIGHLY ENCOURAGED not to waste time. My mother also promised to BRING ME HOME IMMEDIATELY should I fail my courses, so there was lots of incentive to focus on my work and do well

    Fortunately, I was in a major I LOVED and thoroughly enjoyed most of my classes. If I ran into a class I hated, I was motivated to do well by the thought that if I didn’t pass, I would be doomed to repeat the hellish course. So I usually did BEST in those courses :).

    I have to say that having my parents pay for my schooling did 2 things: 1) it really showed me the value of saving for the long term, and 2) it took a lot of stress off me after graduation. I could focus on work and getting my own place and start my new life fresh and not in a mountain of debt.

    I have nothing against those who get loans, grants, scholarships, etc. Heck, 95% of all my friends had some form of assistance. I was an international student, however, so most grants and scholarships were unavailable to me, and I was unsuccessful in getting any scholarships from my home country, but not for lack of trying.

    I would say, encourage her to get scholarships, grants, etc. It builds character and is a source of pride, since most scholarships reflect academic achievement. But also save. Be open about the fact that you’re saving and that you paying for her education isn’t a free ride, it’s an investment, and she has a responsibility to make good use of that investment.

  17. My parents told me when I was in high school, they would pay for either my room and board, or my tuition, and I had to pay for the other. This was great incentive for me to work hard. If I managed to get a scholarship to school, it still counted as me paying my tuition, because I earned the money through my hard work. I did get a scholarship, so my tuition fees were very small. So my parents covered my housing and insurance costs. That was it though… I was on my own for incidentals, groceries, stuff like that. Until I got married… then they officially stated that I was a grown up and they weren’t going to pay for anything anymore ever, at all.

  18. How funny you should ask. That question was answered on Money Saving Mom today. Me? I have 4 kids, and if they want to go to college, they’ll have to work and save first. They’ll go a few years “late” if they want to go, probably. I’m putting most of my money into private education through elementary and high school. I can’t do college, too, unless something changes financially.

  19. My mentor did this with his kids and it worked out so well I think I will adopt for mine.

    He saved for their education… as if they were goign Ivy League.

    He told his kids when they were in school that he will pay for college- if they applied themselves and got into a good college. The deal also included maintaining good grades in order to keep their “scholarship”.

    If they didnt apply themselves in HS and ended up having to go to community college because of grades etc… barring any special circumstances… they would have to pay for it for themselves. If they used that time to bring up their grades and transferred…then they would pay for college.

    The third option of course was to apply themself and get scholarships if possible…then all the money would be theirs upon graduation so they could start their life.

    Both his kids got full paid scholarships and kept them up. So they get the money that was saved for college as a graduation gift to start their life.

    Im kinda in love with this model. It gives them options and accountability.

  20. Both! College is not what it was when we were going. A quality education cost more than an arm and a leg. They really want our firstborn!;) We will be doing a combination of both. We have a 529 and we always are roping the grandparents and other relatives in to help us save. When the time comes we will pay a bulk of it but will also require BamBam to be vigilant about scholarships and grants and to work for books and lodging. That way we are not sending him out alone cold turkey. We will not be supporting any sort of loan.

  21. I say that ultimately it will probably end up being a combo of the two, especially since that was the case with me. My father paid the balance of my tuition and expenses that didn’t get covered by my student loan and scholarships.

    However, I will say this, character is not always built by things like what you do or do not have to pay for. The lessons you teach and instill in her is what will help shape and mold her character. I have friends whose parents paid 100% and they work HARD because they are so grateful of the sacrifice their parents made to get them across that stage. They appreciate the fact that they graduated debt free and were blessed with a clean slate so many others don’t get. On the flip-side I have friends that took out loans and worked to pay for school and they slacked because they felt that since they were paying they could take their time finishing, etc. Neither scenario’s outcome has to do with how the tuition was paid, but rather how they were raised and as long as you instill what you believe in Lil J, no matter how she makes it through college, whether you pay or she does, she will have a character that you all will be proud of.

  22. Well – here’s what my parents did. (and, I’m in college now). My parents enrolled/paid-into the Florida PrePaid College Plan when we were babies. (you pay for what 4 years of college cost at the time your child is a baby, so by the time your child is in college – you use this & are not paying the increase in the price) So, that is how my sister & I are paying for college. But! We both got scholarships – so my parents get the money they used for the Florida PrePaid back (plus interest) … so, it’s a win/win for us all!

    …but, yes – it’s just the 2 of us.

  23. As a current college student, I was expected to apply for as many scholarships as possible. My parents cover the rest of my costs, but I am responsible for working to buy my own textbooks and raise spending money.

  24. My parents said that if we went to a state school, they would pay for it. If we decided to go to a private school (meaning, higher tuition), we’d pay the difference. I still worked hard to get whatever scholarships I could and knew that if my schoolwork suffered, there would be consequences…including that I might have to pay my way instead. I feel like having my parents offer to pay allowed me to focus on my schoolwork and make the most of college, have time for coursework-related internships (instead of whatever crap job would pay the bills), and give me a debt-free start to my adult life, which I truly appreciate. If you can find the balance between getting your kids to work hard and appreciate what they have, while providing them with the best opportunities you can within your means, that’s the best of both worlds. It amazes me to think that my parents paid less per year for my college than I currently pay for my son to go to daycare!

  25. I am hoping to go with a mix of the two! My parents paid for 75 percent of my education. I took out loans for the other 25 percent. I appreciate what they were able to do for me, and I also appreciate learning first-hand (by paying!) how valuable my education is and to cherish it. We’ve got a college fund started for our little guy, and we hope to help as much as possible… but he’ll have to work and save for it, too.

  26. My parents both put themselves through college. Dad got a job the day after he turned 16, took out loans, etc and payed through that way. Mom worked hard in school and got a full ride scholarship.
    They always told us we’d be paying our own way, and mentioned both options–grants/scholarships, and working/loans. They never pressured us one way or the other really, except to point out that scholarships don’t have to be repaid 😉
    I did a little of everything–I had some grants and scholarships, I worked all through college, and my last year I did take out a loan. I graduated with only $5000 in student loans (for 5 yrs of college). I felt pretty good about that. 🙂
    The one thing my parents did pay was to send us a small living expenses budget. My mom said that since I wasn’t in the house (eating/using water and electricity/etc) then she’d send me a little monthly money based on what she wasn’t spending for me at home. My family is super frugal though, so that amounted to about $50/mo.

    I had a couple of roommates whose expenses were all paid by daddy or grandma or somebody. Neither seemed to fully appreciate the value of money, and one in particular could NOT budget to save her life. Both felt like they were good with money because daddy put the money in her account and then she wrote the checks for tuition, rent, etc, but they were not EARNING the money, and in the long run they were not learning financial independence. I watched both of them go through hard wakeup calls.

    My kids will be paying their own way. We may provide some help, but for the most part they’ll be paying.
    Of course, we will pay for their missions.

  27. I say combo. Either way is fine, but I do think there is value in working for things. I got a state scholarship, worked at least some every semester but one and lived at home. My mom just could not afford to help. I think if you are able and do decide to pay for it (all or part)- it should be very conditional upon grades and behavior. It’s your money and you CAN decide how it’s used!

  28. We are putting $50 per month into a savings account for our son (once it reacheso $1000 it will be placed in a CD to earn interest). When he graduates high school he has the option to use the money for a car (approved by us), to start a business (approved by us), to pay for a technical school or apprenticeship (approved by us), or to pay for as much college as it will cover. If he chooses to go to college and the money doesn’t cover it, he will be responsible for the remainder of the cost. If he gets full scholarships and doesn’t need the money for school, he will receive the money unconditionally upon college graduation.

  29. If we can afford it, we are paying for their college tuition. I had to pay for part of mine and I honestly cannot see the light at the end of this tunnel, not to mention I have two kids and have to work my butt off. My parents paid for the first two years though, but I never had a college fund. We are setting them up with that so they will have money. However if they fail a class, they have to pay to retake that class, if they drop out of fail out, they have to pay themselves.

  30. If you can afford to pay for college for your kids, then you should do it. Why should they start out their adult life in a pile of debt?? Think of it as the greatest gift you can give your children.

  31. Long time reader, first time commenter…
    My husband and I have the same ideas as you and yours. My parents could not afford to pay for my education, so I got scholarships and loans. My sister chose not to go to school. My husband however thinks that we should pay for our children’s college tuition. I strongly disagree, because I’ve been there, done it, and it can be done. Does it suck? Yes. But was I out getting drunk every night partying and failing classes? No. Many of my friends whose education was paid for by mom and dad, they were always failing classes and retaking them. What did they care, because they weren’t footing the bill! Maybe not all kids are like this, but this was my experience. And since I lived through it, so can my kids. But still, hubby disagrees. Good thing we don’t have kids yet! 😉

  32. Wow. Lots of interesting plots here! You obviously know my stance but I strongly believe that lots of debt isn’t needed for everyone. There are so many scholarships available that go unclaimed, you just have to know where to look for them 🙂

    We were very fortunate to graduate without student loans (we had loans but paid them off with excess scholarship money) but if you work hard I don’t see any reason why sholarships wouldn’t be an option. Plus BYU is cheap and thats where they’re going 😉

  33. Both are good points. My hubby and I have decided that we will help Moo and JJ secure as much financial aid (excluding loans or pay back grants) as they can and then we’ll fund the rest. Of course, they’ll have jobs their senior years help with costs as well. I don’t want my kids jumping into the world of debt as quickly as I did.

    It might build character but then again it end up putting tons of stress on them if they get into a really good and expensive school. They’ll be more focused on working to pay off their loan than on getting their education.

  34. My parents told me in high school that if I got into a college higher ranked than University of Michigan (the best college in our state), they would pay for all four years of it. It definitely made me work my tail off to be able to move to California!

    However, I had a college account I had been putting money into since I was eleven (and baby-sitting) up through working full-time in the summers in high school, and I used that for my living expenses.

  35. Also, my MIL reamed me out for starting a college fund for our seven-week old baby, saying that I was encouraging him to be irresponsible…I think that as long as we encourage him to put half of all monetary gifts and eventually a large chunk of money he makes from jobs into a college fund, he will understand the value of an education!

  36. I’ll help pay for my kids’ missions/weddings…but I think they need to pay for their own school. If they do well, they earn scholarships, and it costs less. If they do poorly, they literally pay the consequences. Of course, if I happen to become a multi-millionaire when the time comes for my kids to go to college, I may chip in a little bit! 😀

  37. College is super expensive these days and is only getting more and more expensive. If you can help you kid(s) pay for part of it, it would be a big help to them. Don’t forget that after school they’re going to have to pay back loans with a salary that may or may not be great as well as possibly pay for a place of their own, a car, etc. Oh and cutest baby picture ever!!

  38. I say they can pay for themselves. I will help with any extra or hard times, but other than that, they are going to be required to work hard in high school to earn good grades and hopefully get a scholarship and or grants. I am a stay at home mom with 3 kids. I think what my husband and I need to focus on is retirement so that our kids won’t have to take care of us!

    Love your blog by the way! been reading it for a while. I remember when you were thinking about being a mom. Now you’re a mom to the prettiest little girl I’ve ever seen! Her cheeks are just so so cute:-)

  39. My husband and I have discussed this and we have decided that the kids will pay their own way – but we are working on putting away $100 per month for each kid so when they graduate from high school they will have a little money saved to spend how they please (put towards school, get a car, get an apartment, pay for a wedding…ya know basics lol) and each month we give them an allowance (starting at the age of 5) so they can budget their own money and learn how to use it, save it and be more responsible with it…so they will be prepared for the money we give them.

  40. I say help them out. As someone who had to work, pay for my expenses, and try to maintain a certain GPA in order to keep my scholarships…it was hard. Help out your children, but if they mess around and play with your kindness…stop paying for it.

  41. I think there are a billion better character building exercises a parent can do for their children other than forcing them to start out their adult life deep in debt.

    Scholarships, cool. Grants, cool. Loans, so not cool.

    If your children are taught great personal finance techniques as they grow up, they will not need the experience of paying off student loans to learn any kind of lesson.

    IMO – if you can financially handle it (meaning, your retirement savings and standard of living will not suffer) then paying for school for your child is one of the best gifts you can give them.

  42. I’m 100% with you–make them pay their own way. We had 5 kids in our family and knew we were on our own, which motivated us to keep good grades and apply to scholarships and work really, really hard. We didn’t take our college education for granted–which is something I see with many (not all, of course) whose parents foot the bill.

  43. We’re starting an Educational Savings Account or a 529 Education Fund when the baby is born. We hope to contribute $50 a month, which will grow over time with investments. It may not be enough to pay for the whole thing, but we would love to be able to give our kiddos the gift of college without student loans. If they earn a scholarship they can use it for study abroad or something awesome.

  44. If you’re gonna save- ESA is the way to go. This article is by someone whose financial principals we follow. I think he’s genius. I would not give any money for college if my student was going to take out loans. They are stupid and unnecessary. But they’re popular and very normal. I would be debt free right now if I didn’t have mine. College can be done loan-free. Working, only going part-time, going to state schools and community college. A degree, not a pedigree, is important.

  45. I would like to pay for my children’s college. Like you, I was married at 19 and I was planning on going to school but we planned on my Father in Law paying for my husbands schooling. We didnt find out till tuition was due that we had to pay for it ourselves. Well that made me need to work to pay for living expenses while my husband went to school. 4 years later with 1 child, I am still working and we have $20,000 in student loans.
    My parents would pay for our college education and called it “(their last name) Scholarship fund” As long as we got the grades they wanted.
    The greatest gift I would want to give my children is a college education and be able to enjoy college life.
    Having both sides of the spectrum, definitely pay for college if you can, they deserve to be debt free when they are in their early 20’s

  46. hmm, I’ll say both of you are right. A bit of a balance is needed if you are financially able to pay for your child’s tuition. My mom paid for my 1st 2 years, but I had to pay for the last 2. I’m still paying back some of those loans and will continue to do so for few more yrs. Debt is crippling in a slugging economy and collapsing governments. So, as long you can afford to support your child and make sure they are academically prepared before they graduate from high school (scholarships and grants are often GPA and financial need based), then they can have part time job for their rent and personal expenses.

  47. I got grants, (only government)loans, and scholarships but it wasn’t enough to cover it all, so my family took up what was left. I’m still doing 90% of it on my own, but it’s really nice to have support and not be in tons and tons of debt at a young age.

  48. we have this EXACT same conversation about our 11 month old, only the roles are reversed!

    my husband refuses to pay for kids’ college, but i was pretty smart and never could get a dime in scholarship money. i just worry because i want her to have the best, including in her education and i don’t want her to have a ton of college debt to pay off like me.

  49. I’m on a scavenger hunt to find the best blogs and I chose yours. I love it! This post stood out to me because you tell it how it is and keep it short. We have the same debates at our house.

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