We all know that the cost of earning a degree is rising rapidly. More and more people have started debating whether or not going to college is even worth it.
Some parents still fork over as much cash as possible to help their children pay for college, even if it means dipping into their retirement accounts. Others simply shrug their shoulders and recommend student loans if their kids really want to go to school. (Grants and scholarships are out there for students who qualify, but even that free money for college is usually not enough to foot the entire bill.)
Is the practice of “working your way through college” really a thing of the past? In some circles, making your kids pay for their own college educations has a tendency to sound barbaric regardless of whether or not you have the money to help out. The federal government, as well as colleges and universities themselves, consider it a parental responsibility. When unmarried students under the age of 24 fill out the FAFSA to apply for financial aid, their parents’ financial information is required.
A study conducted by the non-profit, nonpartisan group Public Agenda found that just 42% of surveyed students with parents who did not help them pay for college actually managed to graduate.
The statistic sounds grim, but U.S. News and World Report points out that it’s not uncommon for parents who had been helping financially to cut their children off after their grades drop for partying more than studying.
Another study, however, found that the more money parents pay toward their children’s college educations, the worse those children tend to perform academically. Forbes reports that a paper written by sociology professor Laura Hamilton points out the irony, because most parents assume that their children will do better in school if the bill is taken care of because they can concentrate on the books rather than part-time jobs.
In reality, though, those students tend to spend more of their “free” time on leisure than studies. Most students whose parents pay for college don’t earn such low grades they are in danger of flunking out, but their GPAs do suffer.
Hamilton advises parents who pay for all or most of their children’s college educations to actively remind their kids that college is equivalent to a job—performance is important. Students and parents should also communicate effectively to understand just how Mom and Dad’s money should be spent, e.g. on books and supplies rather than beer and spring break trips.
She also recommends that students take on a part-time job during the semester. Even if it’s just ten hours per week to earn their own spending money, students who contribute to their own financial situation at least somewhat have a tendency to work harder than those who are accustomed to a free ride.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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