Paying for Your Children’s College Education

When a longtime friend from out of town came to visit recently, we had a pretty heated discussion about children. Neither of us have any (yet), but we already know that we have pretty different attitudes when it comes to raising children.

One of the topics of conversation that came up was about paying for your children’s college education.

My friend and I went to the same private high school, but we both come from different socio-economic backgrounds. While my friend was raised with au pairs and two doctors as parents, my parents were middle class blue-collar workers where European vacations and ski trips were something rich people did.

My friend’s parents paid for her college education. I grew up with the knowledge that college was something I was going to have to work really hard for, even though my parents would try and help me as much as possible, but with two younger brothers to help as well, their efforts didn’t go very far.

In the end, I graduated a four-year highly-respected school with about $30,000 in student loans.

My friend uses my experience as a reason why parents should pay for their children’s education. I use my experience as proof that your parents don’t need to pay for your education.

While it would have been wonderful to graduate without loans, and I admit that it’s been a financial hardship to pay for them all, I would never expect my parents to  forfeit anything else from their lifestyle in order to pay for my college education.

My parents sacrificed as much as they could. To put it on the brunt of parents’ shoulders that they should be expected to pay for their children’s education, especially at a time when college educations are reaching astronomical costs, is—in my opinion—unethical.

I think the costs of financing your education should be a combined burden and not one to saddle on the backs of parents.

One of the reasons this argument was spurred between my friend and me was because I gave insight that we would like to have more than one kid, maybe even three. My friend said that was nice—if we could afford it. And mentioned that we will most likely be broke because kids cost a lot of money, on top of having to pay for their college educations.

The whole conversation rubbed me the wrong way. Perhaps because my friend grew up with a different background she thinks children cost a lot more. Perhaps because I grew up with less, I know we can get by with less.

I don’t think my husband and I are destined to be broke just because we choose to have kids. And I don’t think that a cost of a college education should be the main reason not to have more than one child.

There are plenty of reasons as to why you should or shouldn’t have kids—Paying for a college education should only be a part of the equation and not the problem itself.