With college tuition skyrocketing, should parents have to pay for their children’s college education? Brandy Pettigrew explores the balance for between paying for her sons’ college and pride in achieving an education on their own.
For the last couple of years there has been an ongoing theme in our discussions with and about our oldest son, paying for college. The discussion is the same every time: He thinks we should be paying for it, we don’t think we should. It’s not that we’ve ever told him that we were going to pay for college. We’ve been pretty clear on that with both of our boys: we won’t be paying for college. We stressed getting good grades and working towards as many scholarships and grants as possible, to reduce the amount of student loans they’ll each have to take out to get their degree. He’s in his Sophomore year at college, and yet this elephant is still in the room. It comes up when he’s visiting, it comes up when my mother-in-law visits, it’s on our minds when he doesn’t call his dad.
I could say that our reasons for not paying for college are all financial. We’re a middle income blended family. We do have two children and making sure that we could send both to at least a four year college would be extremely difficult. According to www.collegedata.com, the College Board reports that an average college budget for a public college averages $22,826. An average private college budget is $44,750. If you just figure the average public college budget for four years, that’s $91,304 for one child to go to college, and we have two. They are also exactly four years apart, so as soon as the first is finished with college provided he graduates on time, the second will be starting college. Add to that, that I am just finishing paying for my own college education this year. We’re not completely cutting him off the financial apron strings. We’ve paid for health insurance, car insurance, AAA, a cell phone, extra money he’s needed here and there. But, paying for tuition is just too much for us.
Our son’s argument, for us paying for his college education is simple: All of his friend’s parents are paying for college. Well, we found that highly unlikely. In fact, according to Sharon Epperson in this article, scholarships and grants are paying for about 30% of college costs in the 2012-2013 school year and contributions from parents have dropped from 36% to 27% in the last four years alone. Since we’re from a very middle to low income area, I find it hard to believe that all of his friend’s parents are paying for their college educations with these kinds of national statistics.
Our biggest reason for not paying for college was not covered by any article I found: It’s pride and achievement. I paid for my own college education. My mother-in-law put herself through college. Both of us agree that we are very proud of that fact. We did that on our own. No one handed anything to us. We achieved the grades for some scholarships and grants and the rest we paid for with student loans. We had to maintain excellent grades throughout college to continue receiving the scholarships and grants. We had to work while going to college in order to pay for our expenses while attending college. People who are willing to work hard to achieve their goals appreciate their successes more. The value of a college education that you pay for and worked for yourself is priceless. That is exactly what we want for our boys. We want them to have pride in their accomplishments. We want them to feel that they have really achieved all that they can and not feel that they owe anyone for how their lives turned out. We want them to know the pride of truly reaching their full potential. We want them to know the value of hard work and what can be achieved with that work. Isn’t that what we all want for our kids?
So, while we still feel bad that our son is upset with our decision to have him pay for his own education, we feel that we’re doing the best that we can do. We’re giving him the same circumstances as 73% of students entering college. We’re also giving him the greatest gift we can give him, pride in himself and his own accomplishments. When he receives his degree we will be there to cheer him on for his accomplishments and work, not for what we gave him.
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