Why Parents Should Let Their Kids Pay Their Own College Tuition

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TOvermiller's picture

On this point, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for every family. But I am forever grateful to a father who told me early in life, "Son, you are going to pay for your own college bills." The benefits of this approach shaped my life in very important ways.

It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth. (Lam. 3:27, NKJV)

Thomas Overmiller
Pastor | StudyGodsWord.com
Blog | ShepherdThoughts.com

TylerR's picture

Editor

Or, you can join the military and let the government pay for your education. AA, BA, MA and 85% of my MDiv was all paid for my the government. When I return to active-duty as a Chaplain in about two years ro so (Lord willing!), I'll let the Navy fund my doctorate, too. Thanks, Uncle Sam!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

TOvermiller's picture

TylerR wrote:

Or, you can join the military and let the government pay for your education. AA, BA, MA and 85% of my MDiv was all paid for my the government. When I return to active-duty as a Chaplain in about two years ro so (Lord willing!), I'll let the Navy fund my doctorate, too. Thanks, Uncle Sam!

Hard to disagree that this option is anything but "bearing the yoke." Not a free handout, that's for sure. Thanks for your service, Tyler!

Thomas Overmiller
Pastor | StudyGodsWord.com
Blog | ShepherdThoughts.com

Bert Perry's picture

My experience in school--my tuition paid for by scholarships and room & board & fees paid by work/trust from my grandmother--is that the big thing to avoid is giving a student a sense of "entitlement", and to make sure they have "skin in the game" so they will actually study. For me, earning part of my room and board and needing to keep a 3.0 GPA helped a lot.  

 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jim's picture

We gave each kid $ 5,000:

Plus:

  • A wealthy uncle gave each kid $ 600

We directed their expectations:

  • Get a job & save
  • Minnesota has a post secondary college program PSOE. One participated in this. All should have, but 2 didn't "get it" (you can lead a horse to water but can't make them drink!)
  • One joined USMC. GI Bill + MN National Guard (after USMC) paid for degree: U of Minn in engineering
  • One paid way through college as barista at Caribou. Now has MBA from MIT and works for Goldman Sachs as a wealth advisor for the uber rich ($ 10M and up)
  • One did the 10 year plan for Bachelors in accounting (he did it "his way" but he finished)

 

TOvermiller's picture

Jim wrote:

  • One paid way through college as barista at Caribou.

Caribou, my favorite! When we moved from Milwaukee to Queens, NY a few years ago, Caribou was closing down all Milwaukee area shops. And there are no Caribou shops in NYC anywhere. If you have any MN Caribou connections, let them know that NYC is waiting for some Caribou spots!

Thomas Overmiller
Pastor | StudyGodsWord.com
Blog | ShepherdThoughts.com

pvawter's picture

I had the opportunity to attend MBU while it was still MBBC at a significant discount. In my case, I was able to live at home without room and board, and take advantage of my mother's part-time faculty tuition discount. At the same time, I earned an academic scholarship in high school and worked 25-40 hrs per week, too. This enabled me to serve as a camp counselor during the summer for no pay and still graduate essentially debt free. I am thankful that my parents didn't just pay my way, although they obviously helped.

Ron Bean's picture

I had an interesting conversation with a corporate "head hunter" one day. He told me that he had a pile of resumes on his desk from applicants with Masters degrees and PHDs who had never had a job in their lives. The majority were either in debt up to their ears or had had someone else paying the way. Whatever the reason, they had zero job experience. He told me that the employers he worked for would hire a lower degree with work experience than a higher degree with none.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Andrew K's picture

East Asian parents typically pay their kids' entire trip through college--and often beyond. Of course this does entail something of the understanding that the kids will support them in their old age. So it's a bit more of a mutual arrangement and involves the understanding of a great deal of responsibility to come, which makes the arrangement perhaps a little out of the scope of this conversation. It's helpful to be aware of though.

Jim's picture

Family I know:

  • Parents paid entire tuition for 1st child who was a son - whole support wad spent on him
  • Thought was, he would pay 2nd child's tuition.
  • For whatever reason (I think b/c as a newlywed he was unable), he failed to follow through
  • That failure reverberated (and continues to reverberate) through siblings

 

Jonathan Charles's picture

Buffet's view of helping children, by his son Peter: His father’s long-held view on inherited wealth was that he would give his children “enough money so they would feel they can do anything but not so much that they could do nothing."

Applying this to college, I want to help my children enough so they can be free to study like they need to, but not so free that they have a lot of time to kill during the school year, or that they loaf around in the summer.

T Howard's picture

Ron Bean wrote:
He told me that the employers he worked for would hire a lower degree with work experience than a higher degree with none.

True story. As a hiring manager, I've turned down several candidates who had their PhD or Masters degree but who did not have work experience. I would recommend people get their bachelors, work five years in their field, and then get their masters (assuming you have to pay for it yourself). If someone else foots the bill, get both as soon as possible, but expect to start in a junior position.

My company used to recruit people directly out of ivy league schools.

I worked with a Harvard MBA grad right out of school. He felt entitled, thought the job title / responsibilities were beneath him, and kept applying for senior-level positions within the company although he lacked experience. His thinking was that a Harvard masters degree should at least start him out in a Director/VP position within the company. He lasted 2 years. Never got higher than senior analyst.

While in my same role, I worked with a young lady from a different department who graduated with a masters from MIT and let everybody know it. She, too, thought her current job title was beneath her. She lasted 9 months and was let go.

My company stopped recruiting people directly out of school. Now, we are directed to give more weight to work experience than to school or degree.

Andrew K's picture

My company stopped recruiting people directly out of school. Now, we are directed to give more weight to work experience than to school or degree.

Now if only that thinking would become more pervasive, we could really shake up higher education. Smile Sadly, for too many institutions, the Name Still Matters. A lot.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

I paid for my 2 kids' college educations (in the case of the 2nd child, still paying as she is a senior).  My thinking was that I wanted them to mostly concentrate on academics and extra-curricular college activities during the year, plus, with some partial scholarships and a couple of initial gifts from the grandparents, I was able to do so, and I didn't want them having a large amount of debt to deal with after graduation.  I did not, however, pay for any of their incidental expenses -- clothes, toiletries/consumables, eating out, activities, gasoline, etc.  They shared one car that still belongs to me, that my 2nd daughter is still using.  For extra money during the school year, both of them started with part-time jobs with the university.

They have both been working jobs since they were 14, because at that point, I already expected them to start earning their way (they did some work around the house and some babysitting to earn money before they could legally get a job).  My older daughter started summer internships after her first year in college.  They didn't pay a lot, but she was able to earn both money and experience.  Upon graduation, she got a programming job at Wofford College.  It's only been a few months, but so far, she is doing well.  My 2nd daughter used her skills with piano to start teaching, and before she even went away to college she had 7 students, and even at her age at the time, teaching piano pays better than flipping burgers.  She now teaches part-time at a music studio in the college town, and has about 13 students.  She could have more, except she needs time for school.

I agree that kids could get a sense of entitlement by having college bills paid, but I think the point is to start teaching them early on to have a good work ethic.  For some, that might mean more work during college and after to pay for it on their own, but I don't think having no help on their college bill from parents is the only way to learn it.

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

...but ever since Peet's Coffee bought Caribou, they've decided to limit new "Caribou" locations to places where the name means something.  In other words, you won't be seeing too many outside Minnesota going forward.

But of course, since Jim shares the name, maybe he can help change that.  :^)  I would heartily agree that Cari-Peet's beats the heck out of Charbucks.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

G. N. Barkman's picture

In our situation, this was the only option.  We had four daughters to get through college, and a smallish pastor's salary.  Our girls all worked and saved money for college.  All worked jobs while attending college.  All worked during the Summers.  None of this was sufficient.  We committed to paying whatever our hard-working daughters could not cover, and the Lord blessed that commitment.  We did not go into debt, nor did our daughters.  At the time, it seemed like a miraculous intervention by God.  We believed that if we (all the family) did our best, God would supply the rest--and He did. 

I remember observing during my own college years that most of the students who did not have to work did no better academically, and usually worse.  There's nothing like working to teach the value of your education.  There's nothing like working to teach you not to waste time.  There's nothing like working to teach you how to manage your money.

G. N. Barkman

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Pastor Barkman,

I can only speak to the anecdotes I know, but from my time in college, I knew quite a number of those having to pay for their own school.  You are correct that not all of their grades suffered, but I know plenty of those whose grades did suffer, as they never had time to study or sleep between college and how much they had to work.  I know one friend of my daughter's now, who worked two jobs during school, and whose grades did not *greatly* suffer, but who still owes a significant amount that it will take years to pay off now that she is finished.  I wanted to avoid that for my children to the extent I was able.  Perhaps they won't value their education as much as yours do, but who is to say for sure?  I do agree that having to work as hard as your kids did will definitely teach them some great life lessons.

Dave Barnhart

Ron Bean's picture

Do potential employers really care what the applicant's GPA was? 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Bert Perry's picture

Ron Bean wrote:

Do potential employers really care what the applicant's GPA was? 

I've head potential employers look it up to make sure it was entered accurately.  I suspect it matters more at the beginning of a career, and perhaps the biggest thing is whether one is honest about it.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Bert Perry wrote:

I've head potential employers look it up to make sure it was entered accurately.  I suspect it matters more at the beginning of a career, and perhaps the biggest thing is whether one is honest about it.

The few times I've had to evaluate GPA on prospective employee resumes, I've looked for above average if there is a work history, but not a specific number.  In the case of someone fresh out of school, that number was much more important.  So, in my limited experience, I've treated it just as Bert said.  Being an engineer, I depend on HR to verify any info if we are interested in proceeding further.  The time I spend with a prospective employee (since I interview for technical expertise) usually gives me a pretty good ballpark idea of whether they lied about GPA or not.

Dave Barnhart