Aug 22, 2013 12:48PM

I have 3 kids, 21, 17, 15.  21 year old is in the Navy and currently deployed.  He is building his own scholarship.  After 3 years active duty he will get pretty much a full ride into any state school he can get into. 


17 year old is thinking about it.  I told him and his 15 year old sister, that while they are in school they can live at home rent free.  They need to pay for their own classes.  Community college is 1/3 the cost of state schools and don't need to pay for room and board.  ALL credits are guaranteed to transfer to the 4 year school.  Getting a degree can be done without going deep into debt. 


I did it back in the 80's and it can still be done today.  I paid for all my own classes and completed my BA in 4 years with 120 hours (minimum numbers to complete).  My youngest brother had his classes paid for by our parents and it took him 6 years and he had 175 hours.  You need to have your own skin in the game.

Aug 22, 2013 8:18PM
I work for a college as an assistant professor. I see students everyday that clearly are not here to study and work. Then there are also those who are dedicated to doing their very best. It has everything to do with the individual student's personality and work ethic. Parents are wise to set conditions on their financial support when it comes to their child’s grades. This will help make clear to your child that they have a responsibility to study and keep their grades up. No work = no pay. (Which of course is no different than it is in the working world).
Aug 23, 2013 5:05AM
My parents had 10 kids, no way could they afford to pay for our education.  But all 10 of us graduated with at least a Bachelor's, about half with graduate degrees, and many (including myself) with no student loans.  We all paid for our own education.  In my opinion, 4 of the most important tricks to getting your kids to pay their own way through college are:

1) Encourage your kids to pick something useful to major in.  A degree is a *means*, not an end.  You have to first determine what career you want (something realistic with real job opportunities at the entry level), then evaluate what the education requirements are and pursue them.

2) Encourage your kids to attend school close to home.  Outside of the top and bottom 10%, which school they go to matters very little to most employers, so your kids might as well go to one that doesn't require room and board expenses.  Sure, living with your parents during college isn't fun or cool, but it's a lot more fun and cool than living with your parents *after* college.

3) Encourage your kids to get scholarships in high-school.  You don't need to go after full-rides, anything that can help with textbooks helps.

4) Buy the cheapest education that gets the job done.  Don't take a $500 English 101 course at the university when the $60 course at an online community college transfers and earns you the same credits towards a four-year degree.  This one is a double-edged sword since it's not always easy to tell what transfers and what doesn't.  But if you play the system right you can save thousands in tuition.
Aug 22, 2013 5:53PM
We had 4 kids, all had "skin in the game" when it came to paying for their college education.  It's what keep them in school and out of the party life.
I went to college in the early 1990's and did not care much because I was young and did not know what I wanted to do with my education. Now, I am going to college and doing something I love. I almost have my degree!
Aug 22, 2013 11:09PM
This is just like the story of hundreds of thousands of American youth.  You don't appreciate the things that you don't own up to.  Whether it's your college education, your house, your job.  Anything.  You can't possibly appreciate something that is just handed to you, in the same way that you can appreciate something that you had to work for.  Parents want to give their children a head start, but it's a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, you are helping them.  But on the other hand, without question, it's something that they can't appreciate in the same way as someone who earned it.
Aug 22, 2013 8:27PM
I spent my college years in the 2nd Sqdn, 1st Cavalry Regiment...and received $25,000 tax-free for my time, and my degree.
Aug 22, 2013 4:39PM

it isn't fair to compare what you did in the 80s to today, see  "Cost Of College Degree In U.S. Has Increased 1,120 Percent In 30 Years, Report Says" ().  The pay for that job you had isn't 10x greater now...

Aug 23, 2013 12:17AM
our son just graduated from a university this past May he went all four years there.. We made the decision as parents to help him out so he took out student loans that he could get and we did the same to make up the shortfall. Is this for every family we went in to this with our eyes wide open knowing that we will be paying on these loans for awhile.. He now has a job in his degree field and is doing wonderful . We also will do the same for our other son and we have raised both of them to be responsible young men and hopefully make there mark on the world. Every family is different..
Aug 23, 2013 7:16AM
Ok yes you were an idiot with your money. However, I would also like to point out that the so called "guardian" of your trust kind of dropped the ball. BIG TIME. You dont hand an 18 year old $7,500.00 dollars and wish them the best of luck. Thats just stupid. So where as you pulled the trigger. He handed you the loaded gun. Im glad you pulled it off evetually and made your way. I also hope you kicked that uncle in the balls at least once or twice.
Aug 23, 2013 1:28PM
Part of the issue today is that a 4 year degree is pushed for everybody when a good portion aren't the academic type.   This fault lies with Guidance counselors and parents.  You don't need a bachelor's degree to be successful.  I know many electricians, plumbers, welders that make bank, because those skills are in need, they do quality work and aren't lazy. 
Aug 23, 2013 9:07AM
more young people should consider a stint in the military (any branch) right out of high school before college is considered.  Then they will have a more serious attitude toward college. 
Aug 23, 2013 9:38AM
I tend to disagree that one cannot compare the cost of education between a few decades ago and now because the dollar back then was hard to come by as the minimum wage was a lot less then it is today.  I went to college in late 1970's and even though cost of one class was about $50.00 my job paid only $2.25 an hour.  My Mother raised 14 children and could not pay towards college for any of us so we had to pay our own way...  and we did not live at home as there was no college in our hometown.  So we not only had college to pay for but also living expenses.  Not only did I get a degree but it also taught me independence and how to manage my money which is not a lot of young people have not learned for whatever reason.  I instilled these same values in  my son and he was able to go off to college at 17 years of age with no assistance from us.  Of course some parents choose to help their children.
Aug 22, 2013 8:47PM
Maybe she should go into finance, lol.
Aug 23, 2013 1:30PM
what is different (and ridiculous) now is that employers require a college degree for almost anything.  It is amazing the number of low paying jobs I have seen posted that require a PHD.  This alone has created a lot of problems - kids going to college instead of tech school, higher tuition rates, etc. 
Aug 23, 2013 1:26PM
It's interesting that that this person's parents never mentioned this savings, and they also didn't discuss with her what she wanted to be when she grew up. How can you not ask a child that?

Not to fully excuse the daughter, but it sounds like the parents dropped the ball as far as preparing their child for adulthood.

Aug 23, 2013 12:11PM
Aug 23, 2013 1:43PM

Two things I don't get:  How did the so-called guardian of the trust just let her do whatever she wanted with it, and does an 18 year old really not think they have to attend classes?  Both my kids went to college, the first, between scholarships and basic student loans, didn't need our help to get his Masters (and he's been employed in his field since the day he got that Masters, all student loans paid off several years ago); the other while smart was not a great student in HS, so she did two years at a very affordable community college, with the promise that if she did well we would help with whatever university she transferred to for her Bachelors.  BTW, knowing that not all CC credits are transferrable, she made sure the University would accept credits from the CC before starting there.  She buckled down, made Deans List and Two Year College Honor Society, got a decent scholarship from the University when she transferred AND enough of a scholarship from the Honor Society to help pay for textbooks, so we kept our side of the bargain and took a parent loan in addition to her taking the federal student loans.  She graduated Cum Laude, was accepted into a very tough Doctorate program in the health field, for which she had to take out huge loans, and is now working in her field and paying down those loans.  We're paying the parent loans, but feel like we got value for our money.

My point is that you can't say all kids should pay for college on their own since every kid is different.  If someone is helping pay, or there is a trust, someone should oversee how that money is spent with the understanding that if the kid doesn't hold up their end of the bargain by attending classes and getting good grades, all deals are off.   While colleges will tell you they can't share grades etc with parents/guardians, they actually can - the student just has to file a FERPA form giving them permission to share information; parents can also require the student to give them their passwords to their student portal so they can check on progress themselves.  While some ppl may think this is an invasion of a student's privacy, to me its a fair price to pay for help with tuition.  If an 18 year old is really as clueless as the author of this piece seems to have been, then maybe a gap year is in order.

Aug 25, 2013 6:43PM
Good story.  Uplifting, relevant and timely.  Best of luck to you in the years to come.
Aug 25, 2013 6:52PM
"If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in all these years spent getting degrees, it’s that it’s not always what you know -- networking is huge."

18 yrs ago I met a small business owner who became a client of the tiny accounting firm I started( I was making $40k a year in the firm).  7 yrs later I bought his small business.  Now, it's 11 years since then.  Last yr I made almost $1 million in salary from that business.   I've never made less than $500k  a year since I purchased it 11 yrs ago.   This is an example of "networking".  If I wouldn't have done the cold calling and referrals I never would have met this person because he was a total stranger up till then.
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