Why Parent’s Shouldn’t Pay For Their Kids’ College Education

by Martin

Should parents pay for college? Should the kid be responsible for college costs 100%?

This article is going share thoughts from parents and readers (tons of reader comments) on paying for college. You’ll be left with a ton of new information once you finish reading this article. You’re going to have a strong opinion in one direction.

My situation was fairly unique when it came to paying for college. Living in a big city, I had many options for education after high school. I had many choices for what to do next. I was also very lucky.

What did I do for college?

I decided to stay at home, work full-time, attend a attend a community college first, save up, invest my money, and take some time to figure things out.

While I did receive some financial assistance from my parents (free rent/place to eat), I had to cover most of the costs of college on my own. I’m not complaining and I surely don’t regret it.

However, I do believe that parents shouldn’t be responsible for paying for college 100%.

Should parents pay for college? Why Not — For Parents:

You can take loans for college but not for retirement.

Despite the benefits of a 529 plan, this is money you could be contributing to your Roth IRA or other retirement investment vehicle.

As selfish as it may sound, do you really want to delay your retirement by 5 years to help pay for college? Think of the opportunity cost.

With the phenomenon of compound interest on your side, you can do wonders for your retirement accounts.

It will promote the kids to work harder academically.

If you know that the cost of college is your responsibility, you’re more likely to work your butt off in high school to boost your grades.

Higher grades result in more academic scholarship opportunities. Lower grades mean you pay more for college.

If your kid takes school seriously, you know that they’ll do whatever it takes to get the grades that save them the most money. Then they won’t have to worry about college costs.

It promotes responsibility.

Instead of turning 24 and realizing that it’s time to get “responsible” your kid will realize this at 18.

There’s far too many stories of people in their mid-20s that still live at home and act like a teenager.

You want your child to understand the value of actually working hard for something and what it feels like to pay the bills at an early age.

Do you really want to deal with a spoiled 28 year old that has it too good at home to ever leave?

As a student I was motivated to start an online business because I wanted to have money for the future and to be debt-free. I also purchased my first condo at 19. If I can do it, anyone can. Trust me.

Should parents pay for college? Why Not — For College Students:

Creates a false sense of security.

News flash: Once you’re done college and in the real world, you’re completely on your own.

Nobody will ever hand you 20 grand a year (or any other astronomical number) a year, for 4 years straight. It’s just not going to happen.

Being able to watch old episodes of Seinfeld and Saved By The Bell 7 hours straight, won’t be an option once you got to pay rent.

Instills a sense of laziness.

Adversity creates opportunity.

Sure there’s the fractional chance that your kid could become a drug dealer or stripper if you don’t pay for their college, but then you have bigger problems.

Having more free time doesn’t exactly equate to more study time.

Free time just means more loitering, more doing nothing, more watching Netflix, and more drinking. That’s just the reality.

I know that college is a good chance to get out, meet people, and party.

Who’s stopping you from doing this on your days off or after work?

And believe me, there’s nothing like going out for drinks or traveling the world after knowing that you worked for it.

Say what you want about the actual process of working, but a job is an excellent opportunity to meet new people and get more social. By working you’ll have the chance to meet other college students in the same boat and you’ve got the potential of networking with older folks.

I’ve gone on plenty of trips and nights out on the town with friends that I’ve met through work. Plus, even if you don’t hit if off with any of your co-workers, at least you can complain about having to work together.

At the end of the day, I’m a firm believer of working hard and partying harder.

Parents should NOT have to stress about paying for their kid’s college tuition if they can’t. This doesn’t mean that parents shouldn’t help out. It just means that parents shouldn’t feel obligated to go into debt or delay retirement to help out their kids.

Help From Twitter: Why should parents NOT pay for their kid’s college education?

@MoneyMateKate: You never fully value something that’s given to you for free. I never cut class b/c I worked for every penny of tuition.

@ErizaBiz: So the kid can learn financial education at a young age.

@ExtremeJacob: The same reason they shouldn’t pay for travel soccer.

Should parents pay for college? What do you guys think? Would you ask your kids to work? Would you do your best to help them out? As a student, did your parents help you out?

(Post originally published on 09/3/2010)

Over the last few years this conversation has gone in many interesting directions. Would love to have you add your thoughts.