Saturday, December 07, 2013
Why we aren't saving for our kids' college funds
"I would love to have more kids, but college is too expensive."
"We're not going on vacation because we're too busy saving for Junior's college education."
"Kids are so expensive. Have you seen the cost of a college education lately?"
So here's the truth in our family: We have four children. My husband is a doctor. And we will not be paying for them to attend college.
Let me be a little bit more specific. What I actually mean is that will not be paying their full tuition at a University of their choice without them contributing to the costs at all.
Firstly, and I know this is a little controversial, but my husband and I do not believe college is for everyone. We believe the importance of college is overrated. We think technical schools, on-the-job training, or military service can be just as beneficial to a person's long-term success as an adult ... depending on the aspirations of a particular child.
Secondly, we don't think that college costs are the responsibility of a parent. We both grew up in lower-middle class families. We never, at any point, thought that anyone was going to pay for us to go to college except ourselves.
John accepted a full college scholarship to the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute. Later, when he decided he wanted to go into medicine, he ran his own business while paying for himself to attend college. He then joined the Air Force to help pay for medical school.
I worked my tail off throughout high school to earn a college education through a full basketball scholarship.
But had we not received those scholarships, we would have taken out our own loans or attended community college while we worked hard, or sought out grants and scholarships of a different nature to fund our college education.
Our brothers and sisters were faced with the same obstacles and many did not receive full scholarships. They found partial scholarships, joined the military, or found other avenues to pay for their educations.
I recently read an article on MSN entitled "Why Parents Shouldn't Pay For College."
The article summarized parental involvement with college education by saying that, "Students with skin in the game are likely to party less and achieve more, research finds."
"Even if you can afford to give your child a full ride," the author writes, "you probably shouldn't. Although working more than 20 hours a week boosts the chances a student will drop out, a less demanding part-time job can make your child more responsible and more aware of the costs involved in education."
She also suggests requiring your child to maintain a certain GPA. "It can't be a bluff," she said. "If your child's grades slip, you'll have to be ready to withdraw support or transfer them to another institution."
John and I have already decided that if we are financially able, we will help contribute to our child's college degree (or other schooling that they may choose). But the requirements from our child will be rigid and non-negotiable. For example, we might agree to pay the cost of a community college education,, but if they want to attend a state college, they can pay the difference. Or we may help them pay for school if they maintain a very high GPA that requires them to truly focus on their education.
However, attending college is not a given for them. And it isn't a given that we will be the ones to pay for it should they choose to attend.
P.S. We don't plan on buying our child a car either!