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Why My Son Will Not Have His College Education Paid in Full


This has been sort of a hot topic, so I am going to share my thoughts on it from my experience.

I was fortunate enough to be at the top of my graduating class and as a result I received a full tuition scholarship to a great college. My parents were generous enough to pay for my room and board. So here I was going to college and didn’t have to worry about anything except for some discretionary spending money.

It didn’t take me long to start screwing everything up.

Drinking, drugs, partying – you name it I probably was doing it. It’s an area of my life that I am not particularly proud of because I basically lost some valuable months of my life. I am also lucky that I didn’t die or have something horrible happen to me because I was just asking for it by my actions.

I probably don’t have to say it, but my grades were horrible. A 1.9 GPA my first quarter and a 0.75 GPA my second quarter. I was on “academic probation.” Then I received a letter stating that one more time on probation and I would lose my scholarship and be kicked out of college. At the same time, my mom and dad couldn’t afford to pay more room & board (unrelated to my grades because I tried to keep that hidden from them). Everything I was relying on to be able to party and have fun was being taken away from me.

Long story short – I did end up getting my act together and I didn’t get kicked out of school. I don’t want to make it sound like every kid that gets his or her college education paid in full is going to screw things up. My point is that with my experience – I took advantage of the situation and didn’t appreciate what I had in front of me. I wasn’t paying my way so it didn’t mean as much.

I want the best for my son when he’s old enough to go to college (if he wants to). I think a valuable life lesson is learned when you contribute to something that you want to do instead of having it given to you. It means more and you value it more. I want my son to have a good life, but he has to want it and be willing to work hard for it.

Mom and Dad will definitely help, but he will need to do his part with paying for college. I think he will be an overall better person for having to do so.

Post included in the Carnival of Debt Reduction #47 at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity


  • Reply freedumb |

    Wow, great post man! I feel the same way…but now that you’ve written this, I’m thinking even if they get a full ride and everything they need, with good parenting, they will realize the same way we did…so maybe either way, it’ll work out?

  • Reply baselle |

    Interesting post. The thought is that if your son pays for his college, he would be more likely to realize that he basically paying $X/per class and show up. Also, during my college years, I ran into a number of my more consciencous classmates who had to be [doctor/lawyer/indian chief] because their parents were paying the bill. For the record, my parents did not finance my education. I did a little partying, but found out quickly that the real show was watching the party-ers.

  • Reply Dus10 D |

    That is an excellent point. It made think of something that will hopefully save me many headaches. I have devised a plan to save for my daughters’ educations. They will work for me, and I will pay them, and it will effectively be tax free money. It will go in a Roth IRA, and they can withdrawl it for education, and save the rest for retirement or a any contributions left for a down payment on a home.

    Anyhow, I don’t want them to blow this money… and with the Roth IRA in their name… they can do whatever they want with the funds… bummer. What about establishing a trust! They can put the money in a Roth IRA that is owned by a trust for which they are the trustor and benefactor. I will be the trustee, and I will be able to determine if money comes out or stays in. Then, when they have finally graduated, I will hand it over. I wonder if this is possible. Time for me to head to law school to learn how, I guess.

  • Reply Mandy |

    I really think it depends on the person too though.

    My parents paid for my education in full (it’s cheaper over here) and I lived at home (the done thing here too) but I didn’t feel the need to go mental. I attended classes, handed things in on time and appreciated it all. Maybe it was because I was doing a course I enjoyed.

  • Reply Anonymous |

    Here’s a point of view from the other side. Both my parents had post-graduate degrees and instilled in me a deep appreciation for education and the expectation that I would attend college. But they didn’t set aside a cent for my college, nor did they discuss with me that college actually cost money so that I should look into financial aid or save money myself. I spent four years working close to full-time hours at sometimes crappy part-time jobs to pay for state school tuition, rent, and mac n’ cheese. I sold my blood/plasma at every opportunity, drove unsafe cars, and lived in dirty, unsafe neighborhoods to scrimp by. This lifestyle took its toll on my health, sanity, and grades. Even though I was paying for it all myself and knew I’d have to pay again if I dropped or failed a class, the sheer exhaustion meant that I too had 1.0 GPA semesters. At the time, I really was more likely to feel despair than appreciation for my education. I didn’t have time or money for a social life; I had to drop out of the honors program, but was eventually able to graduate.
    I still place a high value on education. I have had a very successful career that I know is totally attributable to my education. But I don’t think I would have appreciated it any less if I’d had some financial support in college.
    I’m not going to pay for everything, but we’ve set aside enough to cover in-state tuition at a public school for my kids. I won’t put them through what I went through.

  • Reply Tricia |

    freedumb – I’m a man? LOL 🙂

    baselle, dus10 d & mandy – a lot does depend on the person, but I see myself in my son in so many ways. From how determined and stubborn he can be to how reflective and loving. All I know is no matter how much money I may have to help with (which I am planning on helping – just not paying in full), I will always be there with supportive words and will trust in his decisions. My parents did that with me, and I think that made all the difference in my being able to turn things around and finish college.

    anonymous – very good point about not having any help. I wouldn’t want to do that to my son so I hope I can get my finances together so I can help him when the time comes. My last semester was completely funded by myself (scholarship ran out) so I had some time of ramen..ramen..ramen. I couldn’t imagine going through my entire college years like you had to. Glad to hear that you succeeded and are doing well. It shows a great deal about your character and determination 🙂

    Thanks everyone for your comments!

  • Reply T |

    Well, again a comment that is years late, but I hope you still find value in it.

    I think the key is less about if his school is paid in full and more about making sure he’s at the RIGHT school, even if he thinks it’s not right for him. I had a full ride of scholarships, which covered everything including a very small amount of spending money. My parents would have, however, made sure everything was paid for no matter what they had to do to get me that education.

    However, they stressed grades in HS (and middle school, to make the mind-set for HS) like mad, so I could get those scholarships. And when I went off to college, my mother sat me down and with a calculator showed me just how much I was going to make over four years if I kept my grades up. And bluntly asked me if I wanted to lose $30,000 by goofing off. I tell you, that single conversation did more to make sure I didn’t screw school up than anything else she or anyone else could have done.

    I think not having to work (though I did work – I just didn’t have to) was incredibly valuable to me. It got me into graduate school, as well as got me a couple of good jobs and a great network for future work. Mostly because I didn’t have to worry about hours or money. I strongly urge you to consider this sort of thing before you insist your son will HAVE to work. Maybe he’s like you, and will need to work for school to place any value on it (that’s what I take away from this post, anyway). But maybe he will just need a stark conversation about what he stands to lose (like I did), and maybe he won’t need any of that.

  • Reply T |

    Sorry! Responding again because I didn’t realize I could get follow up comments (if you have any). Disregard this one.

So, what do you think ?