Should We Pay for Our Kids’ College Education?

We have spent the spring looking at colleges and we aren’t even done yet, we are headed to Settle this week to check out more.  It’s crazy the cost of college education.

It’s also crazy to hear people talk about college now. It’s different than it used to be. Many are arguing that getting a degree is not worth going $100,000 in debt especially since they can get the same degree from accredited online universities. If our kids decide to go, or we as parents push them to go… who ends up paying for it?

Let me preface this whole thing by saying that we put our kids in private school all through elementary, junior high and some of their high school.  Because we did that we don’t have money put aside for college.

What We Will Pay?

I am a firm believer in making kids pay for their own college education. Well, most of it. Here is the deal we have with our daughter. She has to come up with half of tuition. Although she is looking at pretty expensive schools, so that’s still a lot for us to come up with. We have worked hard to teach our kids the value of money and this is no exception.

Why Half?

  1. It’s super expensive and that’s a lot to deal with now and after graduation
  2. Give her ownership in her education

How Paying for Their Education Helps Them

Kids need to get out of the house. Get that break from mom and dad and grow up a little. College is a perfect transition for this.

It gives them a chance at a good life doing something they will enjoy.

My freshman year of college was my favorite year of my life. I got out of the house, was on my own, but still under some leadership and had many boundaries as a freshman at a small private college. My social life was super important, but I also tried hard to keep my grades up with the end goal…a degree.

How Paying for Their Education Hurts Them

When parents pay for everything kids have a lot less invested. They may not care as much about how well they do.

They might treat it like summer camp and not study much.

All college students are poor (well for the most part). Paying for everything doesn’t allow them to learn to budget and live within those boundaries.

I had a roommate that slept all day. She never put much effort into it because she had always had everything given to her and this was just another one of those things. She had no investment. If she failed a class mom and dad would pay to have her take it again.

We all know that college life is the party life and we are finding this to be the case at private schools as well. They need to get hit where it counts to make some good decisions. That’s not saying they won’t party, it’s just saying they will limit their partying to non test days, or at least we hope. When they go in to buy books themselves or sign on the line for their debt, they just might work a little harder.

Is College for Everyone?

This is a tough one. I have recently heard from a few people who didn’t go to college and they regret it. They regret missing out on that transition in their lives, but also getting an education that sends them on path. Some of these kids are still living at home because they aren’t making enough to live on their own.

Others have no clue what they are doing and spending that kind of money is pointless after a few years. That’s assuming you spend your first few years getting all your basics out of the way.

Some kids figure it out early on and earn more than most middle class adults. With so much money to be made on the internet why get a degree when you are already bringing in 6 figures.  It’s few and far between, but it’s out there.

Others argue that most people that get degrees don’t end up in the same career as their degrees. That’s us here. While some people say it’s important just to have A degree, is that degree worth $100,000.

How Can You/They Pay for College?

As a junior, my daughter has already begun working on scholarships. Her grandparents have said they can’t financially help her with college education, but we can help her with her scholarships, and they have taken that on with her.

Many scholarships are offered to seniors only, but she has started applying for a few. She is working on quite a few essay scholarships. What this is allowing her to do is have stuff already written. Once you have written some can be re done or just resubmitted. The beauty of cut and paste.

She has her list and due dates. Like I said, Grandma and Grandpa are doing all this with her. They are not local, they are doing this all through email and phone calls. It’s a great bonding time and it’s super helpful for us.

For us loans are a last resort. We, meaning my daughter and G&G, are going to apply to as many as they can and see how much they can bring in.

I am not alone in my thinking. I have found others that are questioning if we, as parents, should pay for our kids’ college education. If we do pay, then we need to decide how much.

What do you think? Or for those of you with adult children, what did you do?


  1. […] I am pretty much freaking out, but this is the route she wants to go. We are going to pay for some of her schooling, but she is going to have to step up to the plate as well. As we go through the process I will be […]

  2. […] First off you need to decide if you are going to pay for their education or if you are going to ask them to help. […]