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(14 votes, average 4.64 out of 5)
Personal Finance - Credit Cards
Written by The Queen of Frugal Living   
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College: Make Sure Your Kids Pay Their Share
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As parents proudly watched the recent crop of college graduates walk to the podium to pick up their diplomas, they couldn't help but be concerned about the stack full of college loans their kids were hauling on their backs. Why isn’t anyone speaking out about stopping the next generation from making that same mistake?

It's almost criminal to burden newly minted adults with anywhere form $20,000 to $80,000 in debt for the privilege of taking that stroll across the stage.

Of course, the parents had everything to say about how much debt their kids would accumulate. The standard rationale is that loans were the only way for their kid to concentrate on their studies and relieved them of the burden of working their way through college.

I’m calling hogwash on that one.  When they show up for their first job interview and they have no work experience, what's that going to look like on a resume?  And let me understand, you put them in debt until they reach their forties so that they can see how late they can stay up and party in their early twenties.  Because that’s what they're doing with their student loan money.

I'm getting tired of hearing parents whine about their 'obligation' to pay their child’s college tuition.  Why?  Whatever happened to letting them earn their way through school and learning the value of a dollar?  Many working people pay for their tuition, while holding down full time jobs and raising families. So there should be no excuse for your kid to hang out at the pool hall between lectures.

Besides, how hard do you think the first year or college is? It’s not! The first year is mostly a filtering process to determine if the kid is halfway serious about his studies or if he's there for the country club ambiance.

What concerned parents should do is start sending those kids to work during the summer to pay for books, room essentials, and so forth. Heck, start them from the summer after their sophomore year in high school. Prepare a price list of all these things they'll need to haul off to college and have them start saving up for them.. Teaching your college bound kids responsibility at a young age helps them to gain that confidence needed when they go off to college.

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Kate |2010-08-05 15:31:13
Summer in high school almost always requires a car - and most kids aren't old enough for a license, nor is there often a car available. Recession is tough, there are few teenage jobs left. Not every city and town has jobs available for the parents, let alone the kids.

I couldn't even find my daughter a volunteer job without a car and a license for her to get there or an adult to take her places. Why does every advice columnist seem to think Mommy is at home all day to chauffeur children around?
frugal nomad  - Teenage jobs |2010-08-06 03:16:40
You do have a point. twenty years ago, you'd never find an adult delivering papers. Door to door paper deliveries were made by teenagers under sixteen because the law, at least in new york state, allowed kids to deliver paper at 12. Once they got to be sixteen, there were plenty of minimum wage jobs to go around.

Even so, there are jobs out there for teenagers. The fast food industry has a very high turnover and if a manager likes the way you look and your attitude, you've got a very good chance of getting at least part time work.

It also depends where you live. It's a lot easier for a teenager to get a job in New York or the Bay area then in a rust belt city like Buffalo or Youngstown.

There is an alternative - to have your kid work a year or two after high school to save up for college and figure out what he really wants to do when he grows up. Mature students tend to do much better at college.
Lynnehs |2010-08-03 09:04:39
Wow, you are really out of touch. I worked my way through college AND had to take out loans BOTH! I also had to take off one semester to work 2 jobs at an average of 72 hours a week in order to finish. It would have been nice if my parents helped out more, since the college fully expected them to contribute 1/3rd, and expected me to contribute 1/3rd. The fact that my parents didn't contribute 1/3rd did NOT raise my financial aid one iota. I was just stuck with 2/3rds of the bill minus the occasional couple hundred dollars for books that my parents did give me (sometimes.) Now I don't blame my parents because they just didn't have the money. But if you have the means to help out your kids, you really should. Those summer and weekend jobs don't pay enough to cover tuition, and the universities DO expect you to contribute when calculating how much financial aid your kid gets.
amp  - Education ... Priceless |2010-07-23 07:59:24
I have seen families struggle to make ends meet, to buy a home, to keep a car on the road - and yet when Jr. gets to age, a car is given and school is provided at the risk of the family's financial security!
Aside from recommending grants, scholarships, and school-work programs ($10/hour/reduce your tuition) I always mention to parents they might consider making an agreement with their child: Take out student loans, work hard - get good grades - GRADUATE and the parents will pay $xk amount toward the loan balance. This way if they party through school and blow $40k of tuition and fail to graduate - they will be paying the full price for their choices - especially when they are flipping burgers.

--When you earn your education with your own money - it has more meaning - better yet, start children in the habit of saving at an early age - not for junk that won't last, but for their own future. Banks can always repo a car or house - but they can never take back what you gain from an education.
gt0163c  - I some extent |2009-11-30 12:38:18
I think this article makes some great points, however I don't agree with all of it.
The first year of college, for many students at many schools is not "mostly a filtering process". Especially for students who took AP or college courses while in high school, the first year is likely to be filled with sophomore level basic courses and introductory major level courses.

Also, college is about more than just academics. It's a time for students to grow up and learn a bit more about themselves, try out new things and, every now and then, even enjoy themselves. In order to do well in academics, take part in some extra-curricular activities (which can provide great experiences which can be as applicable to the "real world" as academics) and have time to take relax, some students may not be able to work while taking courses. Some may ask if these students shouldn't cut down on their extracurriculars. And perhaps some should, but, for others, that may not be the case. I know that I learned more by managing my college theater (something definitely not related to my aerospace engineering degree) than I ever would have flipping burgers or shelving books at the library.

For students in that position, there are alternatives. Summer (or another off-term) jobs and internships, co-op program jobs (the route I went) or even taking a year off to work and save money might be better options than trying to juggle school, life and a part-time job.
Blake  - Great advice |2009-11-07 13:51:55
There's nothing wrong with teaching a college student responsiblity. They turn into mature, down-to-earth adults.
Alexis Asiama |2009-10-22 07:22:24
Great Article. You have hit the nail on the head. I used to work in an undergrad admissions office and along with my own personal college experience, I too wish that I have done some things different financially. I look forward to reading more of your articles. Keep up the good work, love ya!
Tarri  - snaps!!!! |2009-10-22 05:54:03
Great article. It just takes communication, expectations and planning.
Omiewon  - Employers Look for Experience Early and Often |2009-10-19 20:30:18
Some of my managers in the Company I used to run used to think it was strange why we asked for full job history during high school and college. It was really simple. You didn't get interviewed if you didn't at least pay for some of that college as evidenced by working during that period. I'm sorry but when I went to school, the people that didn't work at all during school wouldn't last 10 minutes working for me. I used to have an interview question about what was the worst job that they ever had. Some of them had some really awful jobs.....made them appreciate what we had to offer that much more.

From talking with other hiring managers, I wasn't the only one applying the college work rule.
Kate |2010-08-05 15:24:08
So you wouldn't hire a student on a full ride scholarship? That sounds pretty backwards.

My 4 year university education didn't cost my parents a dime and I lived at home. I had multiple scholarship offers and could take my pick. I worked seasonally during college, but it wasn't easy to find a job - in college towns especially, there are few opportunities for those who weren't the progeny of the business owners or in dire financial need so the university would give them a job. Most of my classmates didn't have jobs. It was truly the exception to be able to land one.
thirdculturekid  - Excellent article! |2009-10-19 20:22:32
Great article! As a recent grad, I completely agree that students should be working summers in their field. Even the summer after freshman year isn't too early to start. It makes it that much easier to get a job once they're out of school, too. Thanks for the advice!
lakeview  - Some really good accountability |2009-10-19 20:04:09
In the wake of the Wall Street meltdown, this is some really sound advice. Its never too early to get young adults engaged in managing their (and their parents) financces. Thanks!

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