Who Should Get Stuck With the Student Loans: You or Your Kid?


Student loansI don’t have a heap of regrets in my life, but there are about 14 that stand out in my mind, and I pay for those bad boys every month. They’re student loans and they suck. Whenever I think I’m gonna have a buck or two to myself, here comes that trollop Sallie Mae to sop up any scraps I might have to buy shoes or partake of Red Lobster’s endless shrimp promotion. How I hate her.

Some of that debt is from undergrad, some is from grad school, but the rest is from Teen Girl’s private school education. I don’t regret sending her to a tuition-charging outfit, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be paid off in the five years she has before she strikes off to college. And that there is gonna be a whole heap of other charges and bills. So it got me to thinking: if a parent’s only option to pay for higher ed is to go the borrowed money route, who should shoulder the debt: Mom and Dad or the student?

I’m the first person in my family to going to college, so my mama had zero insight into the mystifying world of post-secondary financial aid. Everything we learned was through a fire baptism right there in the administrative offices on Lincoln University’s campus. (Shout out to LU!) Now that I’m navigating thousands of dollars in repayments for my own education, this is one thing I walked away knowing for sure, besides lots and lots about Shakespeare and grammar from an English degree that I, thank God, get to put to use: I refuse to saddle my daughter with student loans.

I mean, for one, it’s not like the child ever had a choice about going to college. I’ve been drilling it into her since she was barely old enough to talk that she was going to go. It’s been an expectation for as long as we both can remember, so it hardly seems fair to make her pay for something I planned for her to do her whole life.

Secondly, and most importantly, I learned firsthand that it is hard — hard — to be fresh out of school, looking for your first real-world job, trying to establish your life and enjoy your showroom new adulthood, and have to shell out $200, $300, $400 a month to pay back loans for an education that you may or may not be putting to good use. It’s a shock to your system to graduate and have to start paying bills. It’s almost cause for a monthly heart attack when you see what you racked up in student loans.

When Teen Girl walks across that stage and turns her tassel to the side, I want her to start with a clean slate. No Sallie Mae or federal loan witch hunters barking down her neck or astronomical balances to worry about shelling out. My mother didn’t know any better, and now, almost 10 years after I came out of school, she feels guilty about the monthly burden I bear. It wasn’t anybody’s fault; as much as I hate this saying, it is what it is. But now that we know, I don’t want my child to go through the same thing. And, in the event that she doesn’t land the string of full scholarships that I’m hoping for, I’ll sign on her behalf and take those dreaded, damned, what-did-I-even-learn-that-was-worth-this-much-money? student loans on for her.

Now, when she gets to grad school, that’s a whole other story. Homegirl’s on her own then. But for undergrad, I don’t want her to start out with a deficit before she even has a chance to live.

Will you take out loans for your kids’ education or is it their responsibility to pay after college?

Image via Images_of_Money/Flickr

college, issues, school


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littl... littlelambe

If your taking out loans to pay for her required basic education (highschool), the debt is on you. Post secondary education is the child's choice and should be the child's burden to bear. Afterall, how will she value her education if it's free to her?!

Lisa Moore

All I'm getting from this is that you had that much education ans are still such a horrible writer.

Lisa Moore

Obviously from my typo you can all be sure that I did not go to grad school. I do however stand by my comment.

Katherine Ngiam

I'm with you Lisa, for someone with a degree in English I expect more.

As for the student loans. You may have "drilled it into her head that she's going" but in the end it's her choice. So if your daughter opts to attend college she should be the one to pay. That doesn't mean you can't help out, gift her a semester as a birthday present, pay for books, whatever. But you shouldn't feel obligated to foot the bill.

nonmember avatar cat

"I’ve been drilling it into her since she was barely old enough to talk that she was going to go." WHY?? Why are people of the opinion that one is only a "success" if you go to college, then get a job where you wear a suit and tie? Personally, I have a lot more respect for plumbers, janitors, and butchers than I do for "interface executives" or other jobs with a made-up sounding titles. I am in no way saying we don't need doctors, lawyers, and other professionals that require a college education, but I also don't believe those professionals are any more important than the tech-school-type jobs. Yes, you probably need to do SOMETHING with your life-- but that something doesn't necessarily have to be college.

That being said-- nope, I'm not paying for my kids' education (whether it's college or something else) beyond high school. If they want it, they can earn it. That's not to say I won't help them out with things if I have the means, but I believe they will better appreciate whatever education or training they get if they truly earn it.

1blue... 1bluemonkey

My kids go to public schools (we moved to this town specifically for the outstanding public school system) and they are paying for their own college.  Two years at a community college is cheap enough that they can work their way through with no debt, then transfer to a four-year university if they want to.  Then they will only be paying off two years of student loans if they only get a Bachelor's.  It's the way I went, and since I had to pay my own way, I don't see it as such a hardship for my kids to do the same.  

Also, I agree with the previous comments.  If you have a post-grad degree in English, I expect more - in fact, I'd expect damn near perfect.  Nobody expects me to put words together coherently because I have a math degree, but they sure do expect me to know my calculations and theorems.  

miche... micheledo

LOL!  Our poor children.  My husband and I paid for school ourselves.  I graduated debt free and went on to grad school while working at the college.  Zero debt.  My husband got a few loans, but worked and paid for most of college while he was in school.  We paid off his debt our first year of marriage.

So that would be a NO.  :)  If our children want to go to college, we will help as we are able to, but they will be responsible for the rest of it.  We will encourage them to save and to work their way through school so that they can graduate debt free.

Bridgitt Bridgitt

I don't think student loans are that big of a burden if you select the right school. I paid for school each semester, in full, after scholarships. My parents gave me and each sibling $500 each semester to help. My husband and I had his school loans paid off in 5 or so years. My children will each be given whatever we've saved towards their education to pay for college. Costs above and beyond will be their responsibility. I'm a good student (graduated first in my high school class, college magna cum laude in 3 years), but even I would have cut classes and not taken it so seriously if it was free to me.

Matthew McCrady

My wife and I have always said we'll take on the burden of paying for our son's college education, if he chooses to go to college. Personally, I'm hoping he opts for military service first. Like Janelle, our parents couldn't help us with college; neither my wife nor I even had any encouragement to go to college. We're going to go a different route with our kid and see how that works. Besides, it's not like there won't be other bills to pay to teach him responsibility. Having a student loan won't educate him about the adult world any more effectively than having to pay the rent and electricity every month. By the way, I was an English major as well, so have at me, ye critics.

JessL... JessLogansMommy

I am very grateful to my father who paid for me to go to community college and gave me the down payment on a car so that i could get back and forth to school.  I think how much we help out for college will depend on our situation.  We plan on at least paying for community college or applying that cost towards a state school.  I hope to be in a situation where we can at least do 50:50 on tuition for a 4 year school but ultimately the student loans will be theirs.  Even if money wasn't an issue for our family, i would still expect them to pay something.  I want them to be responsible and accountable.  

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