The college experience offers students an opportunity for education and enrichment. Higher education can also be incredibly expensive, with tuition costs skyrocketing over the last 20 years. In fact, the costs to attend a public college increased by more than 200% from 1987 to 2017.
How can families deal with these rising costs? Many students expect their parents to foot the bill, but is that really the best choice? Let’s go over some pros and cons while considering whether parents should pay for their children’s college education.
Benefits of Paying for a Child’s College Education
All of the benefits of paying for your child’s college education will go to your child. Paying for college expenses can:
- Limit the Need for Student Loans
- Allow Students to Avoid Full-Time Work during College
It is worth noting that, even with full-time careers, college tuition can be prohibitively expensive for many people. Students can be under a lot of stress if they’re working full-time, carrying a full class load, and taking out loans to pay for books, tuition, and housing.
All parents want to care for their children, and many parents feel the pressure to step in and offer financial support as college debts pile up.
Drawbacks of Paying for a Child’s College Education
So, paying the college tuition costs for your child can reduce the financial burden on your child in the short term. But what about in the long term? Many financial professionals recommend that parents do not pay for their child’s college education.
Instead, these professionals recommend that parents set aside money for their retirement. After all, students can get loans for tuition. Banks will not give parents a loan to survive on during their retirement years. Making a mistake with your money when it comes to college tuition can cost you in your golden years.
There is also the argument to be made that students will learn responsibility and the value of money if they pay for their own education. Allowing children to pay their own college bills can:
- Keep Students Focused on Academic Pursuits
- Encourage Increased Levels of Responsibility
- Foster Real-World Job Skills and Time Management
Consider a Third Option for Paying for a Child’s College Education
There are pros and cons on both sides of the argument about college tuition and parental responsibility. Parents are not required – legally or ethically – to pay for college for their children, but many parents want to foot some of the bill anyway.
Focusing on other ways to handle tuition costs can reduce the burden on many families. Students may be able to get financial assistance from the government. Scholarships and grants can also reduce the burden of student loans.
In fact, Sallie Mae reported that – on average – parents only covered around 47% of tuition bills for their children in 2017-2018.
Covering a portion of college tuition while allowing students to pay the rest through hard work, grants, and scholarships may end up being the best of both worlds. Sharing college debt can reduce financial strain on all members of the family, while teaching students responsibility.