Making Your Kid Pay for College Is a Very Smart Move

college lecture

Who knew the best investment you could make in your kid's future is to not pay for college? That's the conclusion from a new study. Turns out, the more financial assistance a parent gives a child, the lower his GPA. The solution? Let our kids foot the bill. It's counter-intuitive, I know. Especially if you can afford to help pay the way. But this actually makes perfect sense and here's why.


You would think someone who has no financial worries would practically breeze through college. It's stressful to wonder how you are going to pay for tuition each semester, not to mention room, board, and books. But according to the study published in the American Sociological Review, poorer students actually have it easier when it comes to excelling in school. Basically, kids who have their own "skin in the game" work harder than those getting a free ride from their parents.

"The reason it was so shocking, however, is that all the research on parental investments from preschool through [college] assumes you give something to your kids, particularly money, it leads to good things," said study author Laura Hamilton. "This is one case where it not only doesn't have the expected good effect, it has a small negative effect." Another part of the problem is that wealthier kids are able to socialize more -- which can be costly on college campuses. Those pub crawls and girls' nights at clubs aren't cheap. But all that fun can cause your GPA to take a serious dive.

It makes sense to me. You have even more to lose when you are taking out tens of thousands of dollars that you will have to pay back on your own. If you waste the chance to learn something and lay the foundation for a career, you are the only one who suffers in the end. You may also be more grateful for whatever contribution your parents can add because you know how hard it was for them to do that. A student who doesn't see this education as much of a sacrifice doesn't carry the same weight on his shoulders.

I can see why kids who are poorer or struggle financially outperform their rich counterparts. I believe that hunger -- literally and figuratively -- drives kids to work harder. I am not sure if the solution is completely cutting off my kid when it comes to college. I can't imagine doing that. But I think that there has to be a compromise. It's entirely too easy for students to squander those years. I think making them pay a hefty portion is only fair. It teaches a hard lesson early -- you better get all you can out of this because you sure as hell are paying for it.

Do you think kids who have to pay their own way through college work harder?


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