Let me preface this article by saying that I am a newlywed individual, but I am not a parent. I wanted to get that out in the open so that you know who is providing this advice. A question I have found many asking themselves is whether or not they should pay for their childrens college education. The parents in favor of paying seemed to have their educations paid for by their parents, and those opposed paid their own way through college or simply did not attend. This rationale makes sense since parenting techniques more often than not are learned behaviors. So tell me, which side of the fence are you on?
I am all in favor of paying for your childs college education, through their undergraduate degree that is. Now remember I said I’m not a parent, yet. It’s sort of like a marriage counselor dispensing advice even though they have never been married. I’m one of those people that had their college education paid for by their parents. The reason I am so adamant that it’s the parents responsbility is actually quite simple. First, let’s consider that a college degree is a necessity if you have a desire to obtain a professional job. There was a time that a highschool degree was at least semi-sufficient for just about any career, but those times are long gone. Second, it’s nearly financially impossible for a child to save the amount needed by the time they reach the age to go off to college. Most states won’t allow a child under the age of 14 to get a job, and even then they are severely restricted as to the type of job, times, and number of hours they are allowed to work. The jobs available to minors are often low paying and becoming more scarce as out of work seasoned employees are fighting for those same positions. This basically forces a child to take out student loans in order to attend college. With student loans come high interest rates and interest charges that quickly phase out with rising income levels. We are telling our children to get a higher education, and to do so they must become laden with debt to do it.
Now that I’ve voiced my not so humble opinion on paying for your childs undergraduate degree, let me explain why I think they should be left to their own devices after that. In my experience most Fortune 500 companies, along with scores of others, pay for their employees education expenses. Some will pay in full for classes that directly relate to your professional career path. Others pay for a significant portion at the very least. There is no reason to have your family contribute to an education that can be paid for by your employer as part of your additional benefits. I will say that this often ties you into your company for a couple years so that they can get their money’s worth out of you, but that is a choice you will have to make.
Granted I’m a tad biased when it comes to the exact path I’ve laid out because it’s the one I took. I was fortunate enough to have generous parents that made sure my undergraduate education was fully paid for, and then I worked full time while completing my MBA management programs. While I did inevitably leave prior to fulfilling my entire financial obligation to that company I only owed back a small portion in comparison to how much they paid.