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Canajun Finances Home » Student Debt (Epilogue)

Student Debt (Epilogue)

Is there a right way to deal with the question of whether a parent should pay for a child’s post-secondary education or whether the child should be left to pay for a University Education (and leave with a large debt load in student loans)?

I think that is a pedagogical question since most of the times the parents financial situation is what dictates how much parents can help their children who want to get a post secondary education. I find it rare that parents who can help their children with their post secondary education, don’t help out in some fashion or another. I do know of some children who have refused help from their parents, out of pride or other reasons, but that is a rarity as well.

Some of the comments I have received have been very interesting, and I want to thank all of my reader’s who contributed (and those who de-lurked for me as well).

  • A large number of comments agreed with my opening statement that it is very rare that parents who can help, choose not to help out their children who choose to try to get a University Education, it usually comes down to whether the parent is in a position to help or not.
  • Michael James commented:

    I plan to pay for the basic necessities for my kids initially, and am hoping that they earn enough to take over by the end. I’m not paying for any extras, though. Meal plan, residence, books, and tuition are necessities.

    I think that point of view is healthy and fair. The extras he comments on are part of the “College Lifestyle,” but then again, should a parent be expected to pay for them?

  • Trent commented:

    And I would say emphatically, if the student in question never had a job during high school, then I think you would be doing a great disservice to them by allowing them to wait until they graduate college before punching their first clock.

    Which is very much the “Christian Work Ethic” espoused by many parents and grandparents. I think I agree with that comment as well.

    As a personal aside, I worked delivering Telephone Books one summer, loading trucks another summer and had a paper route from age 13, so on those days at University when I thought, I am going to chuck this whole thing and get a “real” job, I just remembered heaving bundles of Penthouse into the back of Grumman delivery trucks in 30 Celsius heat, and it was amazing how well it motivated me.

  • Nerd Money Commented:

    I think one possible solution in terms of funding is that you loan out any funds you’ve set aside for their education. Set it up like a government funded loan where there’s no interest while they’re in school and then a modest interest rate payable to The Bank of Mom and Dad six months after graduation.

    Interesting concept, that I don’t know if I agree, but it is another way to teach the value of the money spent on the education (remember the infamous Singing Horse parable for possible pay back solutions).

  • Steward’s of Wealth had another perspective:

    We don’t have kids. But one thing that we will teach them is how money works. One of our goals is to teach them how to invest. Hopefully, by the time they get to college, they’ll already have assets paying for tuition.

    Didn’t really say if they were going to help or not, and unless my kids find a penny stock to invest their funds, it’s less likely they’ll be able to pay off their tuition, but a worthwhile learning experience, although what happens if they invest badly (like I would have)?

  • Nancy (aka Money Coach)’s comments really hit home for me:

    I was driven, got the A’s but it wasn’t nearly the experience it could have been if I had been funded. Then I graduated with a debt that took 10 long years to pay off, and significantly hampered my ability to get ahead (and most readers know the effect of compound interest = opportunity cost for me).

    I read that and understand more what the costs of Student Loans can do to newly graduated students.

  • Amy (my de-lurker) comments were again very good:

    I graduated with a BA in 2003 with very little debt. I worked like crazy every summer (maybe taking 2-3 days for a camping excursion with friends every summer but that was it). I also worked most Saturdays during the school year. Seeing as I attended a Christian university here in Ontario, my earnings didn’t stretch as far as I would have liked, so I applied for DadSAP:) My parents were in a position to help me out, and I’m very grateful for that. I gave all I could towards my education and my parents paid the rest.

    DadSAP == The Bank of Mom and Dad, but it’s the same idea. Any child who works hard and realizes that as the oldest they need to help their parents because their brothers and sisters will want help too, is ok by me!

  • Another interesting comment I got from an acquaintance who has many kids (more than 7 I believe) who told her kids, “You are going to University, Your Parents aren’t going to be able to Help, but You are going”. I think if kids are aware of the ground rules early, they are more likely to figure out what they need to do early on as well.

Thanks to all commenters and readers, this was an excellent bit of research for me to understand how other folks view this dilemma. I am lucky to have gotten my scholastic ride for free (as it were), and hope to help my kids as much we can.

Feel Free to Comment

  1. I knew when picking schools for my degree that I would be getting some help, but not enough to cover it all. My first choice was a school near enough to home to commute to. But, I still stayed in Residence the first year to ‘get that away from home experience’, and I do not regret it at all. For years 2-4 I commuted and saved big! I only took OSAP once in first year, and I put it into a savings account, paid it back at the end and earned some interest. I worked throughout High School, dog walking, baby/cat sitting and a small grocery store. So with that money I was able to pay my own books, drinks/lifestyle for quite some time + working summers.

    Luckily at the end of it I only owed a little bit to the bank of mom/dad, and i paid it off within a few months. Going forward in life, whenever/if I have kids I think I would do something similar for them. Support them enough for two full years wherever they go, but make sure they have to cover some of it like books/lifestyle, and if they want to live away from home for the full 4 years, they will have to pay some of it too. Having to buy my own books meant I looked for second hand books/deals.

  2. Student debt is a very serious issue, becomming more and more of a burden nowadays! So, one should think twice before deciding over taking loans for his studies.

  3. I think the decision whether or not to pay (part or full) for education is depending on the student’s “relationship” with money and studies when he enters university (if he chooses to).

    If the student takes studies seriously even without paying them, and that the parents can afford to pay the studies, I do not see any problem in the parents paying the studies.

    If the student would be more serious if paying for his/her education, the parent could only subsidize PART of the school costs, even if money was saved for the whole cost.

    Since the student’s future behavior cannot be predicted, parents should try to save for studies if they can afford it, but debt payment, mortgage and retirement should be priorities before future studies.

  4. As with any financial situation, avoiding expenses is important. I don’t know that it’s the case now, but when I went to school, the cost of living in residence was more than the cost of tuition and books.

    If money is an issue, then going to school in your home town should be the default option.

    This makes student debauchery more difficult, but if your kids are girls, more the better!

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