Where other parents stand?

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-22-2010
Where other parents stand?
37
Wed, 09-22-2010 - 1:35pm

I was wondering where other parents stand on how much they will be contributing towards their child's college costs. My Husband has the firm belief that if the kids want something bad enought they will work hard and find a way. Our oldest is in his 2nd year and has paid his own way for college. He has actually matured and is doing very well, he will owe around $20,000 when he graduates, the rest he earns and is from small scholarships. But yet, I must admit I have this constant nagging guilt that we should be helping. My middle Son who is a Senior in H.S is now applying to schools and is adding to this guilt quite a bit, because he wants to go to a more expensive school than his brother.

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Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Wed, 09-22-2010 - 2:17pm

While we did contribute to our kids college costs, we did NOT just open the checkbook and say here you are. We believed our kids should have a financial stake in their education, because that makes them responsible, and realistic.

We had saved a certain amount of $$ for college, and we told them--here's what you have. You can spend it all on ONE year, or find a college where it will last four or more years. If you find a college close to home and commute, you'll have more money to put toward tuition. We also told them, we DON'T pay for C's. We made them take out Stafford Unsub loans in THEIR names, with the understanding that any classes they did poorly in, they would have to pay for. As long as the grades were there, we would repay the loans--up to the previously noted maximum. Anything more was their responsibility.

They both worked continuously--24 to 30/hr/week during the school year, and 40+ in the summer. Small scholarships were a happy windfall, but NOT considered as income that could be depended on. Older dd rejected the large scholarship she was offered, because after investigation, she found that very few scholarships to that school were renewed for subsequent years, and that the state schools had tuition that was less than the REMAINDER of the tuition at that school.

If your younger son wants a more expensive school than his brother, he should find a way to pay for it. I would like a Ferrari Testarossa, but I'm driving a Chevy, cause that's what I can afford.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-06-2009
Wed, 09-22-2010 - 3:00pm

Welcome to the POCS board pear_muffin!



I won't let you feel guilty. You are not the only parent saying what you have.



My boys survived undergrad and graduated.



We did not have the $$ to contribute. So our boys knew if they wanted an education... the world was as your husband says: theirs to obtain.



I know we were blessed our boys found the way to make their education dreams work.



While I hear everyday other parents investing in their children's future, I often wonder how/where my two would have been if we had been able to do the same.



... even heard my sister telling my mother on a recent visit... "well

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-22-2010
Wed, 09-22-2010 - 3:35pm
Thank you for the support! We actually have three, my youngest is a junior in H.S., so it will be boom, boom, boom going off to school. My oldest is just an hour away from home,
Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 09-22-2010 - 4:18pm

Everyone needs to decide what they think their student will get from college - and what they want them to have learned about life, not just academic subjects, by the time they graduate. Then they have to consider what they *can* contribute to those 4 formative years, and what they're *willing* to contribute.

Gone are the days when kids could pay for their own 4-year college education away from home. I worked in high school and during the summers, took out student loans, took 18-21 credits per semester, and graduated college in three years so that all I owed for my public-university (dorm-living) BA was $4000. I took the same approach to my MBA and owed only another $4000 in loans for that.

However, if my student were going to the same state university I did, she would have to pay $22,360 per year, and there is NO WAY she could pay for it herself no matter how many hours she worked. So the deck is stacked unfairly against students who need to pay their own way.

So, getting back to what you think is important: what do you want your kids to learn about LIFE by the time they graduate college? Some people feel it's important to learn about working, earning your way through college, and doing what you can afford, whether that's your dream or not - that's one set of lessons they could learn. Others believe that if you can afford to pay the whole shebang for your kid to go to the college of his/her choice, they can end up in a place that allows them to develop as an individual in the way that is best for them - which might be community college, public U, or private college - and achieve dreams they might not be able to if they're constrained by economic decisions. There are advantages to each of these, and to the other choices families can make. What you choose depends on what you value.

The only thing I really advise against is anyone going into heavy debt that can't be comfortably repaid after graduation. It used to be only law students who graduated with $100K in loans and had to work in law jobs they hated just so they can repay it; nowadays you see 22yos with BAs in Poli Sci graduating with $100K in debt and no clear path to repaying it, which is an AWFUL way to start out in life.

Kelly

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Wed, 09-22-2010 - 6:57pm

Certainly, costs have gone up, but there are ALWAYS ways to cut them, and a determined person can certainly get a quality education without spending $90,000. They can go to community college for the first two years. They can commute. The OP said her oldest son was going to school an hour away from home. My dd commuted an 1.25hr, one way, in rush-hour traffic. It didn't kill her. She could have taken the trains, spent the same amount of time but been free to study during that time. And she did occasionally use that option.

They can pursue scholarships or tuition waivers. Most state universities offer tuition waivers. For instance, all Illinois public universities are authorized to award two general types of tuition and fee waivers: Mandatory Waivers and Discretionary Waivers. Mandatory waivers are authorized by legislation and mandate an award to eligible students who meet the specific parameters and criteria included in the statute. Discretionary waivers are granted at the option of the university.

Two of dd's friends got Talent waivers of their total tuition--one played the french horn in the orchestra, the other curated all the art displays and shows the college of Art put on during the year. Another got a full waiver based on doing BOTH swimming and track. All of these kids commuted, and so their college education was essentially FREE

The mother of another kid my dd went to HS with, got an office job with a state university, for the EXPRESS purpose of getting a Children of Employees waiver for her children. The boy my dds knew went for free for both undegrad AND grad school, and after he married, HE became an employee(music professor) at the school.

Another went into the army for 4 years, for the EXPRESS purpose of getting the GI bill and also making himself eligible for a VA loan. One of my gf's son is in college NOW, with the vast majority of his tuition being paid by deferred enlistment bonuses, and his Reserve participation. If he joins ROTC, he will get more.

Of course, one can always say, "I don't WANT to...go into the military, teach Special Ed, develop a talent, play a sport, commute, or go to community college"

But *I* say, "Where there's a will, there's a way."

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 09-22-2010 - 10:02pm

Yes, of course. All of those things are possible.

What I said was that the days are gone when a kid fresh out of high school could *go away* to a public university of their choice, live in a dorm without qualifying for scholarships, and still pay their own way through college. The economics of *that* just don't work anymore, at least not in my state, where the cost of tuition, room & board, and fees are over $22,000 per year.

The main point of my post, however, was to answer the question the OP asked about whether they "should" contribute. That, I believe, does depend on what they want their kids to get out of college. The "do whatever it takes" approach reflects one set of values. The "pay whatever it costs" approach reflects another. And there are many shades in between. What they "should" pay should reflect their values. It is not inherently "better" to have kids pay their way through college, nor is it inherently "better" to pay for it yourself. It all depends on what you want them to learn from the experience, and how you manage to conform what they learn with what you can afford.

Kelly

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 09-22-2010 - 11:44pm

I think a lot of this of course depends on a family's financial situation--I believe you have 3 kids close in age so that would be difficult. My DD is going to the state university--the total cost is about $17,000-$18,000/yr. The first year, her dad & I paid about $10,000 and it has been less since then. (We are divorced and pay 1/2 each). She did get free tuition (which is a laugh since the actual tuition is only $1700 and "fees" are $6000), she has gotten the Stafford loan every year, some small scholarships and the last 2 years, she got larger grants of about $6000. If we didn't pay, she wouldn't be able to go away to college. We aren't low income and only have one in college at a time so we don't qualify for the Pell grant. The 1st 2 yrs she only got the unsubsidized Stafford loans.

Yes, people can go to community college if they can't afford a 4 yr university. They can commute to save money on room & board. Since I did go away to college & found that experience very valuable (and also fun) I wanted my DD to have the same experience. My ex never graduated from college. He was kind of pushing the cc and my DD's response was "why did I bother to work really hard to graduate at the top of my class and be in National Honor Society" and the other things that she did and not go to a good school. Another thing to consider is how much do you want them to work? My DD was not able to get a full time job during the summer, but she did work. She also worked part time during the school year but last year her academic load was so tough she couldn't do it--she's in nursing and last year she had 3 full days in the hospital plus almost 2 full days in class, not to mention homework. I would much rather give her a little more money than have her barely passing and really stressed out--she was stressed enough as it was. This year her schedule is easier--only 2 days in clinical and one of them sounds pretty easy, so she can probably get a job. She will still have $20,000 in loans even w/ us helping out, so it's not like she is getting a free ride.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Thu, 09-23-2010 - 12:29am

See, this is the thing. Somewhere along the line, college became an "experience" rather than simply a means to an end. For me, and certainly in this economy, college is (or should be) a method of obtaining an education designed to enable a person to be self supporting above simply the sustenance level. That education should be obtained as economically as possible, and saddle neither the student nor the parent with onerous debt, unless the education is preparing the student to obtain a job where the salary JUSTIFIES AND IS CAPABLE OF REPAYING onerous debt. *I* believe that spending $100K to get a BA in Psychology, Public Relations, or Fashion Design, is an obscene waste of money.

In addition, people no longer need to go away to college to find out what the larger world is like. That larger world is available at the touch of a button, and you no longer have to leave the farm to see Paree. And a child certainly does NOT have to go away to college to learn how to pinch a penny, cook an egg, or make a mature decision without first asking Mom or Dad.

Of course, the unfortunate fact is, so many of us have been brainwashed into believing we MUST buy cars we cannot afford, houses we cannot afford, and educations we cannot afford, to keep up with the Jonses, and to have that wonderful "experience".

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2005
Thu, 09-23-2010 - 9:09am

I was wondering where other parents stand on how much they will be contributing towards their child's college costs.



I do believe in contributing something if you are able. I wouldn't go into deep debt or let my child go to a university I couldn't afford and feel "stuck." What we did was just say, "this is what we can afford to contribute." For older dd, who has medical issues, we did require her to stay close to home (if she wanted our help). For younger dd, we had no restrictions, but we didn't change the amount of money we were willing to contribute. I wouldn't say we contribute what we can "comfortably" afford. We drive 10 year old cars, don't take family vacations, and live frugally. We also insist our dds live frugally. Neither has a tv, a gaming system or a car. Neither has lots of new clothes. They're expected to work in the summer to pay their other expenses (optional if they work during the year). And both have academic scholarships, so they have to maintain their grades in order to maintain that money (if they lose it, they'll have to get loans).



I agree that in most cases, where there's a will there's a way, but at the same time, I *do* think that college is a great life-learning experience and I'd put THAT ahead of other things (like a new car). I wouldn't put it ahead of buying life insurance, or paying for my meds, or having a retirement savings...

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Thu, 09-23-2010 - 9:30am
I think it's totally up to the family and what their beliefs are.

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