My husband and I both graduated from our undergraduate degrees debt-free thanks to scholarships, grants and financial aid. Yet even with having graduated with no debt and without having to rely on our parents, we continue to contribute to our son’s college savings.
Our reasons are of course personal, and are in no way a call-to-action for everyone to do the same. For one thing, we have wiggle room in our budget; if we were heavily mired in credit card debt or have other, more pressing needs, college savings wouldn’t be anywhere near our priorities.
Secondly, we already save for retirement. A common piece of advice is to ensure your own retirement before your children’s college fund because, while our kids can take out a student loan, parents can’t exactly apply for a “retirement loan.” So I contribute to my 401(k) and IRA before putting any savings into his college fund.
We also loved our college years and, just as vegetarian parents pass on their lifestyle to their kids, so do we with ours. I truly believe that for most people, education provides opportunities, from measurable benefits like income and careers to the more subtle ones like building character, forming relationships and opening our eyes to a wider world (I can definitely attest to that last one).
And finally, those same scholarships and financial aid my husband and I received aren’t guaranteed come the time my toddler enters his college years. A big reason we received grants and aid was due to our parents’ financial constraints—my mom was a single mom with two children in college, and my husband’s parents weren’t rolling in the dough either. My husband and I, on the other hand, are probably right in that middle class trap where we’re not poor enough to qualify for aid but not rich enough to comfortably pay for everything.
And so while our parents weren’t able to contribute much to my husband’s and my college years, we’re taking it upon ourselves to save a bit here and there for our toddler’s. We don’t make it a point to save the entire amount, but do try to contribute whenever we can.
Some argue that paying for kids’ college years breeds ingratitude and encourages laziness when students themselves don’t have to work to pay for college, aka the spoiled brat syndrome. I can’t agree with this, since I didn’t pay for college but worked hard nonetheless, all the while appreciating every experience and opportunity. If students disregards their parents’ money and efforts at sending to them college, their ingratitude might stem from a deeper reason and one that didn’t just pop up because they got a free ride.
I inserted a poll on the right sidebar of the blog asking whether you’re contributing to your children’s college funds. Below are the results:
- 71% are trying to pay for some of it
- 21% are trying to pay for all of it
- 7% are not saving for it
I was surprised to see that trying paying for all of it (21%) was higher than not saving for college (7%). Perhaps the economy has led me to think that college savings aren’t as high on people’s priority lists, but I thought more folks would be opting out of college savings. Then again, maybe it’s because of the economy—particularly the difficult job market and higher competition for recent grads—that have led more of you to contribute to college savings.
Tell me which option you chose, and why:
Are you saving for your children’s college? Do you plan to pay for all of it, some of it, or none of it? Why or why not?
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