This question was posed on a site I frequent, and I thought it was an excellent question.
Should parents pay for their children’s higher education in order to keep them out of a possibly heavy debt load, or should kids who want to go to college pay for it out of their own pockets? Or maybe a dollar for dollar match by the parents: they pay half?
Well, there are any number of answers based on individual family philosophies and individual takes on parental responsibility. There are no right or wrong answers.
I have a few thoughts to share on the topic, however. (You knew I would, right?)
I do want to share that college is not out of reach for any student who prepares well and works hard in high school.
State schools are quite affordable and are an option. Private schools are also an option, but again, the student has to be well-prepared in order to attain merit scholarships.
But here in our home, with 8 kids, our children know that they will be financially responsible for their higher education. HOWEVER, we partner with them *now* to provide them with an excellent education so that they can achieve top scholarships to attend the school of their choice.
Currently we have a student on scholarship to Belmont University, and a student who actually makes thousands of dollars a year as a student at Lee University. Yes, she actually receives a check for all the scholarship money that she has earned which is over and above the cost of tuition and room and board. It is amazing. So is the GPA she needs to keep, as does her brother at Belmont.
My point is simply to encourage parents that college is something that can be paid for by the student. In our situation, our children just know that they have to work hard now in order to reap the benefits when they graduate, and I think that is a very good thing.
I have a son who currently is a high school junior who opted not to play basketball this year because he is doing extra school work in order to better prepare for college board exams that he knows will ultimately define his availability of college choices next year.
I made some suggestions to him that would cut his load down so that he would be freed up to play if he wanted to, but he really, really is serious about getting into the college of his choice. He is willing to make the sacrifice now. While I thought my son was being too hard on himself, my husband assured me that we should let him make his own decisions in this matter.
College prep truly is a mindset. Parental support comes in many, many forms, not just monetarily. Our support now while our kids are at home will lead to them being independent and confident when it is their
time to leave the nest.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the right doors will open at the right time, and we as parents don’t need to worry about how we will ever afford college for our kids *right now* when they are not graduating yet. One thing at a time, and one step at a time.
What if a student isn’t serious about school and the parent knows that the grades just won’t be there for scholarships? If the student is a high school senior, there isn’t going to be much time to turn it around. State schools will most likely still be an option, and part-time jobs can help defray the costs.
But if the student is younger, it is never too late to stress planning for the future. We take our high school sophomores college shopping so they can see what will be necessary grade-wise and money-wise to get into college, and this also enables them to set expectations for themselves, an “if/then” mentality: If I want to get into ________ , this is what I need to be doing now. I highly recommend this!
I wholly support and promote mastery learning which teaches kids to not move on until they have learned the material they are studying. This builds success upon success, and it creates an “I can do this” mentality which is invaluable to have as a mindset in life. Feel free to e-mail me off list if you would like additional info on mastery learning, as it is a vitally important component which makes homeschooling much more meaningful and productive.
If a parent *can* afford to pay for college, should they? Beats me! We have never been in that situation, LOL, so I would not speak to something I don’t know about.
I *do* know that it is entirely feasible for a student to go on to college without mom and dad paying for it. Again, this takes preparation and commitment on the part of the student. It will be more difficult for some than for others, but it is attainable.
That is good news all around!