Shocking, I know.
Let me preface this by saying I fully believe in college. I fully intend on my daughter going to college, or at least completing some sort of technical or traditional college. And I will help her every way I possibly can.
But I’m not going to pay for her college.
That’s a great question. My (and my husband’s) reasons are threefold:
The most important quality that we want to instill in our daughter – over and above even how to manage our finances, and to respect us, her parents – is a good work ethic. What is a work ethic? According to Wikipedia, work ethic is:
- Work ethic is a value based on hard work and diligence. It is also a belief in the moral benefit of work and its ability to enhance character. Workers exhibiting a good work ethic in theory would be selected for better positions, more responsibility and ultimately promotion.
I believe that by just handing my daughter her college education, without her having to work for it, it will undo everything we will have done her entire life to install a good work ethic in her. Make sense?
So, we’ll encourage our daughter to do well in high school, in order to obtain scholarships for college, live at home for her first 2 years of community college (so save money) and work her way through college in order to graduate debt-free!
I worked hard before and during college. How? During high school I studied ridiculously hard, got a stellar ACT score and GPA, and was given a $40,000 scholarship to college! Then, during college I got a job as a server at a local restaurant. Really, when you’re in college, there isn’t much better pay per hour than being a server or bartender, so that’s what I did.
I believe that allowing our daughter to work her way through college will make her realize just how valuable her college education is. The fact that she is paying for herself will motivate her to work harder. And knowing just how expensive college is, that will motivate her to learn more.
At least that’s what it did for me.
A Bright Future:
If we can instill a good work ethic in our daughter, and make her realize that value of her education, I believe we will be setting her up for a responsible and happy adulthood.
She will know the value of hard work.
She appreciate every dollar.
She will know what it is like to be without debt – and never want it any other way.
We will have given her the best start we can.
And that’s all any parent can do, right?
What we will do instead –
Don’t think we’ll leave her without any sort of assistance. I’m sure some of you are thinking we’re terrible parents, but don’t worry, we fully intend to help her out:
- By letting her live at home during some or all of college, if she chooses a school close
- By helping her choose an affordable school
- By giving her all the help we can while she’s in high school, in hopes that she’ll obtain several scholarships
- We’ll help her with travel costs, if necessary
- And we’ll do everything we can to help her get a job while in college
We’ve also started saving some money to give her after college. We may use it to fund her wedding, or maybe as a graduation present so she can put a down payment on a house – or maybe we’ll give it to her just because we feel she’s responsible enough to handle a large sum of money.
Whatever we decide to do, we won’t be paying for her college.
Are you paying for your children’s college? Tell me in the comments below!
*This post may contain affiliate links
Tell her to use the webs easiest college debt calculator to track (if not her debt) her expenses. Helps to plan ahead https://www.yourmoneypage.com/education/studentloan.php
Are student loans really that bad? I think not. It’s not understanding the end game which hurts students – what job they may get and the potential salary/income from that job. Then, student loans make sense. Just like buying a home with a mortgage makes sense.
In terms of your other goals, there are many other ways to help children learn the value of hard work and how to manage/appreciate money. Not that your’s are an unworthy way, I’m just pointing out there are many paths to the top of the mountain. For me and my wife, we are saving enough to pay for 4 years of in state tuition and fees. And we’re hoping to do most of it in Roth IRA’s in their names!
Nichole @Budget Loving Military Wife says
Your children must have an income in order to have Roth IRAs in their names. Perhaps they are teenagers and then it would work! Other wise you may want to look into something like a 529.
I know they need an income. Are you saying you aren’t allowed to pay children for working at a family business? The IRS would disagree with you. Pub 15, page 12 has the juicy details on how you can skip SS and medicare tax if the business is a sole proprietorship (can be a partnership under the parents) owned solely by the parents and the kids work for the parents.
529’s stink. We have them, and decent amount of money in them. And we regret it.
Yes, they do have to have an income in order to have any type of IRA in their name. However, parents are allowed to open one as a joint account with their child, that way it isn’t considered a “gift.” 529’s are a good plan, but we have decided against using one because it can only be used for education and we would like more flexibility than that.
Student loans aren’t that bad in and of themselves – it’s the fact that students are banking on their future jobs, and there is no guarantee of that! it’s just like a car loan – you don’t know if you’re going to be employed tomorrow and be able to pay that loan. Not to mention the interest that forces you to pay way more than the actual cost of the education, and with rates as high as 10% on student loans now, that’s a ton of money!
Jayleen @ How Do The Jones Do It says
We hope to help our kids with college as much as we can. Unfortunately, we have not saved and it will be here before we know it. We do talk to our kids about scholarships and have let them know we will help but won’t be able to foot the whole bill. My daughter discovered college is free in Germany and thinks she should move there;0)
Oh wow! How would you feel about her moving to Germany?
Ashliegh Jarzenski says
If she wants to move to Germany for school make sure she is learning German NOW and continues to do so! Many German universities require at least a B2 level of German skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking!
I think this is a great plan, and probably identical to the one my parents had for me, but children have a mind of their own. I vehemently didn’t want to attend a state school (cheaper), and instead attended a private school that had a cap on the scholarships they gave out. I did get the highest amount of scholarships, but that only covered 2/3 of the total cost. I ended up getting loans for the rest of the tuition.
One thing I do not recommend encouraging is attending a community college for the 1st two years. I understand that she could save loads of money for those two years, but what happens when it’s time to transfer? Every school in my area gives VERY LITTLE scholarship money to transfer students. If she was a good student in high school, then she would probably get a better scholarship as a 4 year student, instead of a transfer.
I definitely think you’re right about children having a mind of their own. You can do everything 100% right, and they still may not agree with you – haha! But, I’m with you on hoping she will attend community college for the first two years, and then there’s always dual-credit classes while in high school ;-)
I think you’ve got a great idea here. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with young people learning the value of hard work from a young age. I, personally, left school at 16 and worked full time. I’m now studying for a degree in my spare time, and am paying for it myself. I think my parents were similar to you- they taught us all that if you want something, you need to work hard for it.
Each to their own, I suppose- a lot of people judged me when I left school, but it was definitely the right decision. I now look at other kids my age, who had everything given to them when they were younger, and they can’t even get a job.
Out of interest, how old is your daughter? And what are her opinions on college plans?
She’s not even two yet, so we definitely have some time, but you’re absolutely right – everyone’s path is different
Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom says
We’re planning on paying a part of our daughter’s schooling and have started saving (she’s 2). We’d like her to pay for part of school though, so that she gets more value from school because she understands the costs.
Exactly! I see so many kids in college who either don’t belong there or don’t appreciate it – it’s horrible!
Nichole @Budget Loving Military Wife says
We don’t have children yet, but we have discussed how we will handle college when and if we have children. We plan to start saving when he/she is a newborn. We plan doing something middle of the road… like we will pay tuition and rent but our child would cover books and living expenses. This way he/she most likely would need a job or at least manage money to make ends meet. But debt would not be accrued.
My personal experience with college… I worked and studied hard throughout high school and paid for my bachelor’s degree. Although, my degree completely wiped out my funds and my Master’s Degree cost a pretty penny plus we were not “allowed” to work with the Master’s Program I was enrolled it… so I racked up $50,000 of debt for my Master’s Degree… something I wouldn’t wish upon anyone!!! I graduated almost 10 years ago, and tuition rates have sky rocketed since then… I can’t even imagine what they will be in 15-20 years from now!!!
Wow – I had never heard of a master’s program that you weren’t allowed to work during! We definitely want to save something for her, just not necessarily for college.
Broke Millennial says
I’m with you 50%. There is a huge amount of value in encouraging a kid to have a financial stake in his or her college education. The only reason I don’t say I’m 100% with you is because I do plan to help pay for 50% of my (if I have one in the future) child’s education. But I’ll only pay 50% if I agree with the choice. Otherwise, the percentage might be lower. If he or she wanted to get a poetry degree from an expensive, elite, private college — I probably won’t see the ROI there. Parents do need to do a better job of helping their children set realistic goals and pick colleges that will fulfill what they need without breaking the bank. My parents required I pay for 50% of my college education (even though they could’ve easily paid for it in full) because I needed to have skin in the game. It also deterred me from just going to the highest ranked school I got into simply for name brand. It made me evaluate what I wanted out of a college and what the value of my dollars would be for my education.
I definitely see what you mean – you want to help them out but not hand them everything. And, as expensive as college is getting, that 50% will probably be a pretty hefty chunk of change!
Anne @ Money Propeller says
If we decide to have kids, we will be paying for their post-secondary educations. They aren’t as obscenely priced in Canada, but are still expensive. A year of school (living/books/tuition/etc) cost us each about $20k when we were there in the mid-2000s, as an example.
I could go on at length about why and how, but the jist of it is that the kids will know the value of a dollar by the time they get there and be expected to be hardworking. We want them to be able to enjoy their time there, we come from families where post-secondary was paid for, and we want them to be able to leave debt-free. We are in a position (of course unforeseen circumstances not withstanding) to make this a reality (again, only if we choose to have kids.) We were both on varsity teams, committees, etc, that wouldn’t have been an option if we were working.
Marissa @Thirysixmonths says
My parents didn’t pay for my university education, and I still managed to pay it off shortly after finishing grad school. I think you’re teaching your daughter the value of hard work and that’s priceless.
I like your thinking. We have 4 adult children now. We were prepared to pay 100% of their tuition, with stipulations. One, they had to have a plan. Two, we only paid for A and B’s, otherwise they came home. The first wasn’t ready for college, ended up in the Air Force, and they paid her tuition. She loved the experience. She is now a SAHM with 4 children, and a firefighter/paramedic. Plus, she homeschools the kids. The second daughter went to a university, paid by us, and did very well. She is very frugal to this day, and has always worked since she was 15. The third daughter decided to go to a hairstyling school in Boston, and has owned a very successful salon for about 10 years. Earns far more money then her other sisters.Last, baby boy is 20, went one year to university, said it was not for him, and has apprenticed on a organic ranch this last year and has been offered a very lucrative positon in CO doing the same thing. College or University is not the only path to success in life, and I am not only talking about financial success. From the time they begin to toddle, teach them about financial decisions. Also encourage them to find their passions, and turn them into a way to make a life.
Thanks a lot
That sounds like a great way to go about it; lending oodles of support, just not the financial backing that causes so many kids to take their education for granted. It seems like sometimes parents just go crazy and forget that if their kids stay in-state (or local) and work summers and part-time during the school year, they can make more than enough to get through school. I love the idea of putting aside money for their future, non-educational expenses. That’s what we do too! I’d be curious to know how you’re planning on investing that money?
I think you have a good plan and I hope it works out for you and your daughter. However, I don’t think it’s realistic for everyone. How old is your daughter? What does she want to study? What profession does she want to be in? No matter what it is, her experience going to college can not be compared to yours….simply because of the amount of time lapse that has passed – it’s not the same now.
College is expensive and getting more so with each passing year. An average, conservative cost per year for tuition and fees at a publicly funded in-state school is between $8,000-$10,000. Graduate school is more expensive. Scholarships are out there for the the top students and are becoming increasingly competitive. That’s great that you received a scholarship, but I can guarantee you that it will be much harder for your daughter to get $40,000 scholarship now than when you were in school. Additionally, if your daughter wants to be a lawyer or have any advanced professional degree that $40,000 will not go very far!
Also – Pell grants (and state grants) are there for those who are financially eligible…..so everyone stuck in the middle will have a harder time. Community colleges are great for those students who want to work in fields of study that are offered at the school. Community colleges are also good for students to attend and transfer. But, in reality, those students who go to Community colleges with the intent to transfer, rarely do – almost 75% of them do not transfer to four year colleges. Why? I’m not sure anyone knows for sure.
I think there is a balance that must happen. I think parents can instill the values and work ethic that you are talking about, but at the same time must be realistic and be willing to contribute financially.
Make sure you check out all the repercussions of your view on this. Your income will count against your child on the FASFA form whether or not you want to help her pay for college. The only way she can complete the form without being impacted by her parents income is if you abused her, or are dead and she is not adopted, you and your spouse are in jail, or she cannot reach you at all and is also not adopted. Those are terrible situations and I hope your daughter is not ever in one of them. The government expects parents to help pay for college so you are handicapping her by not helping her. College prices are soaring higher than incomes every year, so just because it worked for you doesn’t mean it will work for anyone in the future.
Instead of retiring at 40, why don’t you and your spouse work just a few more years and help her start life off debt free without being a burden on society? Why expect scholarships for a child with parents who can pay? You would be taking away from those worthy children who’s families really can’t pay for their educations.
Teach her a good work ethic and try to model one yourself by not expecting others to pay for your child’s education, which is a parental duty in the eyes of our government.
Kathrine Miller says
Beth there are also repercussions of letting the government determine how you are going to spend your money and raise your children. Yes FASFA will take into account their parents income and your children will qualify for less government money. This does not reduce their chances of receiving a scholarship (or even 10 scholarships) as billions of dollars in scholarship funds go unawarded each year. You are not taking money away from a kid that cannot afford it but would be accepting money for getting out there and doing something productive. Writing an essay or doing some community work doesn’t hurt anyone. Working also doesn’t hurt children in school if you are worried about work ethic.
Also, how does a parent not paying for college make the child a burden on society? What if they child is so successful in business that going to would take them away from contributing to society in a more productive way. If the author was promoting student loans that would be closer to making the child a burden on society because we as a society are having to pay for federal student loans that these young kids are taking out loans that are way over their head. The government will give thousands of dollars to a kid without even looking if the child has the capability of finishing school and/or even if they do finish would be able to pay it back.
College is a privilege not a right. It is a privilege that I wish for both of my children but before we even get to college, I want to teach them that they have to work hard to get what they want, don’t expect anyone to give you something without earning it, college is not for everyone and there needs to be a plan whether college or alternative is chosen. My plan is to talk to my children about their plan early.
A lot of commenters are acting like every child is entitled to go to college because they made it to age 17. I love both of my children equally but if one works hard and tries their best and the other plays around regardless of our coaching and guidance, I will be much more likely to assist the first one than the second with college just because it is what is best for each child. College does not guarantee a childs success and you are not a bad parent if you decide not to fund a kids college.
I definitely can see your reasoning behind this, although I really think the work ethic part is dependent on the person. (I don’t have kids, so I’d pretty much be the “kid” in this post.) I didn’t earn any scholarships in high school, due in part to the fact that my school was a sea of overachievers where I paled in comparison, despite taking a bunch of honors/AP classes, doing tons of extra-curriculars/volunteering on the side, and all that good stuff. (My weighted 4.0 GPA had nothing on the weighted 5.0’s that at least 20 people in my class achieved.)
I was really fortunate that my parents paid for most of my undergraduate tuition. I took 10-12 classes per quarter, held 2-3 part-time jobs throughout most of my college career and earned a scholarship that paid for a full year of tuition so it wouldn’t be as much of a burden on them (my brother’s only a year older, so it got to be pretty expensive, even though we both went to public universities). Make sure you let her know to keep looking for scholarships throughout college too! They’ll definitely help out a ton if she qualifies for them!
That being said, Going from community college to college will definitely save a ton of money, but she will have to be vigilant about the courses that the school she wants to transfer to will take, and what credits will count toward whatever she decides to study in. Teaching her how to budget early on would also be monumentally helpful, because if she doesn’t know how to save money/spend wisely, even having a job will not help.
I think looking into what she wants to do after graduation would also be a good idea, because graduate programs can be freakishly expensive, and some don’t allow you to hold a job while you’re completing their program. I’ve been living on $10k/year for the past 4-ish years, and I’m still in $200k debt (which doesn’t even factor in the piling interest–hooray for graduate + medical school).
Exactly! I thought I was reading my own blog (except that I don’t have one). Our son is 18, just finished high school and is already planning on attending and paying for his college education. He started working during the summer between his Jr and Sr years, was able to buy his own vehicle, pay all his auto expenses, and still put money away toward college. He told me just the other day that one of the things that he’s so thankful that we taught him was how to handle his own money and budget. Because he knows that he has to earn it himself, he has been developing a strong work ethic and appreciates working hard. We’ll see how the future unfolds, but he’s definitely headed in the right direction.
We don’t intend to pay for college, either. We will be funding the heck out of our retirement at that point, and will not go into debt to pay for our kids’ school. What we WILL do is anything and everything we can that does not force us into debt, including encouraging them to live at home through school; helping them save their own money; and evaluating our budget every term to see what we can spare toward tuition. If it’s $1000, we’ll give it freely. If it’s nothing, well, then, it’s nothing.
Financial literacy and responsibility has been a cornerstone of our parenting, and we hope that sticks with our kids when they get to college. It’s not stinginess or meanness for us. It’s being practical and taking care of our own financial house first. Just as our kids will have to do at some point. If we were wealthy, we’d probably do more, though I still don’t think we’d pay for all of it. I think it’s beneficial for college students to attach their own finances to the cost of their education, whether it’s by taking their own loans (though hopefully very few!), working a job to pay their way, or applying for scholarships and grants with minimal hand holding. It means more if you have some sweat equity in it.
I do not agree with this at all. I am eighteen years old and my parents will be paying the difference between my scholarships and student loans. In high school I applied for scholarships like crazy, but didn’t get many. I was involved in many different clubs and graduated with a GPA of 3.98. I got one B.
Now I worked my but off to pay for my college I saved my money and worked every summer. But for my first year I won’t be working while I go to college. Forcing your daughter to pay for all of her schooling doesn’t necessarily teach her any of the lessons you preach above. The lessons you talk about should be instilled in her from a young age. I recently turned 18 and I am so thankful to my parents, am willing to work my hardest and best and past any test college throws at me to succeed and I am not paying for my college entirely by myself.
This is also doesn’t work depending on her major. I am going pre med and too finish my degree and take classes to pass the mcat I will have to take 21 credits every semester. To pass the classes with good enough grades I am not going to be able to work. What will your daughter do when she needs to finish her degree in four years and doesn’t have 10,000 dollars to pay? Saying that you won’t help your daughter is fine. As a teenager in the situation where I have done almost everything humanely possible to pay for my college with out my parents help I would not have the funds to go. Just realize that by refusing to help her you might teach her to appreciate her education, but it might also harm her education. Just something to consider
You know, my dad had a plan like this because he worked his way through college. Then it came time to actually look at going to college.
I’d gotten sick during my senior year and my grades suffered for it, so I was unable to get a lot of merit scholarships. My dad made too much money for me to qualify for most financial aid. I’d worked all through high school (which, incidentally, combining a job with taking advanced classes, trying to do extracurriculars because you pretty much have to have them to get into any school and still trying to have a social life so I didn’t totally isolate myself did not help with the stress or health issues that killed my grades. It made me miserable) but had always had to be paying for gas and school supplies, as well as helping with my medical expenses.
My dad was also totally shocked by how much tuition had gone up since he went to school. It quickly became obvious that me paying my expenses with a job was not going to be an option, as I’d have to work more hours than was feasibly possible to afford it.
In the end, I ended up sticking with community college because it was all we could afford. I finally have a job with tuition reimbursement, so I can go back to school, but my dad betting on me being able to pay my way through school essentially made me actually going directly to university a pipe dream.
So, yeah, encourage your kid to do as much as they can, but please don’t act like refusing to help them pay or discouraging them from getting loans is going to always work like you’d hope. The best laid plans, as they say.
Save up so your kid can get an education even if something goes wrong.
College Rep says
Currently I am an admissions rep for a four year school. And while I respect and understand your stance and choice for your daughter. I deep down hope that you will reconsider. After working in Higher Ed for about five years now I’ve seen and learned a lot about the process. One statistic hit me hard a few weeks ago: 14% of students that go to community college with intent of graduating with a four year bachelor’s degree do so within six years. And most students who start at a community college don’t finish. Not to mention that transfer scholarships are less favorable then the scholarships for first time freshman students. For some students it works and is an attainable goal to get to that next level of a four year school, however for others it isn’t that simple.
As for commuting I believe that it defeats the whole point of college. College is a time for independence and finally living on your own and figuring out the ropes with the parents at a safe distance. Rather than them grow and foster, parents would rather have them live at home and hinder their growth in this substantial way. Students who commute also lose that since of community that the school provides. It’s not only easy to become involved on campus but it’s contagious. Living on campus is one of the greatest experiences that a student can have.
Why do loans have such a bad rap? Student loans are no different than getting a house or a car loan. Which both of those can depreciate over time, while an education can only grow and flourish! Also only the private loans are around 10% loans from the government are around 4.2%!
I saw someone in a comment box above mention CCP. Please, please don’t force your child to take these classes in high school. CCP classes are starting to ruin the system. I think that in theory it is great, but in application I’ve found flaws. For example students may start to take these courses in their junior year. They plan out to have college credits past for the first two years of college. Wonderful, this student finishes the last two years in a four year school and is now graduating two years early. This student at 20 graduates and finds a job. They eventually get let go because they can’t handle the work obligations that a 22 year old may be more mature to handle. And if a student goes through this program and decides to become an educator, then they are going to have a really hard time finding a job as a teacher at the age of 20! Trust me, have the children stay in high school take honors and AP courses. Just don’t send them though the CCP system.
My last thought before I sign off of this post is what does she want? Granted she may not know at the moment. But the first and last thing I ask students about in my meetings is what they want from their experience. What will help them make their choice? Granted mom and dad have a part in this decision. But it lies on the student and what they want for their educational experience.
I really hope you reconsider and look at everything before telling your daughter that this is her plan for her life.
The representation of the college.
I admire your ambition to teach your daughter the importance of work ethic and the value of her education. This being said, your plan is unrealistic. I am a current college student, and in high school, I did everything right. I was the valedictorian of a class of five hundred at one of the top public schools in my state, held leadership positions and was actively involved in five different clubs/organizations, and ran cross country and track all four years. The only thing I really could have done different was get a job, but my junior and senior year I was actually chronically sick and my doctor said the only way to get better was to get more sleep. The 4-6 hours I got each night was not enough to keep up my immune system, but I was a good student, so I sacrificed my health for my resume. That being said, a job was pretty much impossible. I applied only to in-state, affordable schools, and the university I’m currently attending is recognized nationally for its fantastic value. Despite all of this, I did not get a full ride. Community college was not an option for me, and is rarely an actual financial help to students as there are hardly any transfer student scholarships for the last two years of a degree. I worked my butt off for every penny of scholarship money I received and that was not enough. Working a job during school now is also impossible, as I have an extremely heavy course load and am still involved with a lot of organizations and volunteering because grad schools and employers don’t want just a degree, they want a well-rounded person. If she wants to further her education after a BS (or BA), grad and professional school is even more expensive with even less scholarships. The education system isn’t getting any better, and the situation will probably be much worse for your daughter. Helping her learn the value of an education and knowing she will need to work for it is wonderful, and I in no way oppose that. Help her save her own money for college and encourage her to work hard for her grades, but don’t make her end up sacrifice her education goals. Based on your blog title, I assume you know the value of saving small amounts of money for a long time. That’s what my father did for me, just a few hundred dollars in a college fund for me every year. I do not take his money for-granted, and he knows I have every intention of paying him back once I have a career in place. He saw how hard I worked in high school, and how hard I continue to work, and feels my future is worth it. The world is harsh and cold and unfair even when you try your best. Be prepared.