Would you ask for college money?

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-11-2009
Would you ask for college money?
Fri, 06-08-2012 - 10:55am

Hi everyone,

Long-time lurker here.  This isn't really a vent, more a question.  But y'all give good advice so I thought I'd ask.

Some background: I am in my mid 30s and happily married.  DH makes a good living for us.  I've decided to go to college and pursue a degree in something I've loved for 20 years.  This is the first time in my life I've been able to go to college; a week after I turned 18, my mom moved 200 miles away and basically said "good luck and have a nice life."  Our relationship was tumultuous then, but she and I have worked hard on our relationship and are very close now.

Back in my late teens and early 20s, I attempted to get grants and loans to go to college.  In order to be approved, I needed to submit my mom's tax returns to prove I wasn't dependent on her (I wasn't and never was again after she moved away).  Unfortunately, she didn't even file her taxes for many years, so she was unable to give me the documents.  In our conversations about her taxes and me not being able to pay for school (then), she told me "can't you just tell them I'm dead?"  I'm still trying to get past that one.  *sigh*

Anyway, now that I'm able to actually go to college, DH, bless his heart, has supported me 100% and has paid for everything thus far.  I am unable to qualify for grants due to his income, so I pay full price for school, books, etc.  I am loving school and have maintained a 4.0 (while working a part time job and taking care of two kiddos) and plan to keep it.  Ideally, I'd like to transfer to a really good college in about a year (I know I can if I work my tushie off), but that will cost big bucks.

On a side note, I could qualify for student loans now, but I'd like to avoid that if possible.  

If you're still reading, thanks lol!  Here's my question.  Fast forward to today: I have been toying with the idea of asking my mom for help in financing my college.  I know she has some "savings" which she says she plans to give me when she dies.  This isn't her life insurance, but money she's received from family over the years.  She isn't wealthy and lives very modestly, but she and her DH are doing fine and this gift wouldn't affect her lifestyle in the least, since she doesn't ever touch the savings.  I know all of this because she's always been very open and forthright about that money.

Why would I ask?  Partly because she didn't support my education when I was younger -- she told me to tell the school that she was dead because she didn't want to file her taxes.  I have been on my own since I was barely 18 and never asked her for a dime since then.  Which is why I am considering asking her now.  She knows I will go all the way and that this is something I've wanted for a long time.  That said, I feel a little uncomfortable asking her for money when my DH makes a good salary.  However, DH paying for my education will affect our lifestyle as I go forward, but we both know that and have accepted it.

Does it change things when money is for school?  Would you ask your parents for help with college?  Part of me wants to take some financial strain off DH, part of me wants to ask because (I admit) I feel she owes it to me...however, the logical part of knows that she owes me nothing since I am a married, adult woman who is perfectly self-sufficient.  But what the hell, it wouldn't hurt to ask, right?  Or wrong?  Would it be totally inappropriate?

My mom's good about her boundaries -- she would just tell me no if she didn't want to help, and things would be OK between us.  I'm just not sure I want to *go* there, KWIM?

Would you ask your parents for college money?  Or should I just let DH continue to pay?

Thanks all.  Any insight is appreciated.

FoodieWorking Mom

Avatar for deenow17
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2004
Sun, 06-10-2012 - 11:42am
I would say not to ask her. You will have an obligation to her if she says yes and then needs the money. Also, I'm a big believer that we value what we work & pay for ourselves. I was on my own at 18 & my Mom had committed to paying for my education. She paid my first semester then part way through that semester, she needed that money immediately & said she could no longer afford to help me with tuition. Needless to say that this created a problem in our relationship plus a hardship for my DH & myself so that I could finish university. We lived on eggs, bread & kraft dinner but it was only 3 yrs of our lives & set me up with earning power for the reminder of our lives.

I hear that paying for this will put a financial strain on your family but I'm assuming that this education you are getting will result in some form of employment in the future where you will be able to contribute financially. My DH used to tell people he paid for my university education. This was wrong & I'm reacting your statements of your DH paying which isn't true. You are a couple & so it's the 2 of you paying even if he makes the majority of the money. DH now feels this way as he became sick 15 yrs after I finished school & my job covered the bills for our family for 5 yrs before he could go back to work but I never say that I paid while he was sick. There is only us not he & I in our relationship. In fact, DH retired 5 yrs ago without a pension. The cash that hits the bank is actually my income/pension but it's our money. We both earned it as part of our relationship. Sorry, off my soapbox now. lol