Why Parents Shouldn't Make Kids Pay for Their Own College Education

Harvard library

Even though my son is only 7 years old, my husband and I realize that before we know it, he'll be graduating from high school and going off to college. And that's why lately we've been talking about how we need to get our butts in gear as far as saving money for his future education. The last thing we want to do is get to that point and not be able to send him to the school of his choice (within reason, of course).

Unless there's some sort of extenuating circumstances that make us 100 percent unable to pay for his tuition -- we're planning to take on the full financial responsibility of his college education. We believe that's what parents do.


Yes, my mom and dad paid for every cent it took for me to earn my Bachelor's degree. And no, they weren't rich. Actually, when I went off to college, my dad was unemployed and was in the process of looking for another job. But even though there were days when I can remember sitting on the floor with my mother rolling quarters we'd dumped out of a huge wine jug of change to take to the bank in exchange for cash -- they still found a way to send me to a small, private liberal arts school. (Which I transferred out of in favor of a big state school after one semester. Long story.)

And the reason they were able to manage is probably because they'd planned for college since I was a baby and had their savings to fall back on. They never for one second expected me to pay for my own tuition -- which is exactly the philosophy I want to stick by when it comes to my son.

The last thing I want for him after he earns his college degree is to have to worry about paying off student loans in addition to searching for a job. I want him to get off on the right foot and have the best possible start in his post-college adult life -- not be up to his ears in debt and worrying about how in the heck he's going to pay for it on whatever his entry level salary happens to be.

And while both my husband and I are assuming (and praying) we'll be in a good financial position when the time comes to send him to college -- we certainly can't predict the future. It's time for us to quit beating around the bush and set up some sort of separate account for him -- before we wake up one day and he's 18 and we're broke and we totally fail him by not paying for his education like we said we would.

Parents are supposed to pay for college for their kids. Period. Now please excuse me while I email my husband to remind him that we need to get a plan in place for our kid ASAP.

Do you plan on paying for your kids' college education? Why or why not?


Image via Will Hart/Flickr

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