Why We’re NOT Saving for College

One of the first things people used to say to us when we told them we wanted a large family was, “But how do you plan to pay for college for all those kids?” My answer was simple and usually shocked them: “We don’t.”

It’s hard to argue that we don’t encourage an extended adolescence for our children these days. In addition to providing the right clothes and expensive, popular electronics during childhood, we’re now also expected to:

  • buy our children’s first car (at age 16, of course),
  • replace that car when they wreck it,
  • pay for college (of their choice),
  • pay for at least one semester abroad,
  • help them get their first job and apartment,
  • pay their credit card bills if they can’t,
  • pay for their wedding,
  • let them move back in as an adult (indefinitely and rent-free), and
  • help raise our grandchildren.

In fact, adults moving back in with mom and dad has become so common we have a name for them: boomerang kids.

It goes without saying that we’re not going to feed into the clothing and electronics competition so many parents fall prey to today, mostly because we can’t afford it. But we’re also not going to subsidize my adult children’s lifestyles, either. And that starts with paying for college.

First, it’s not our job to pay for college. As parents, we’re morally obligated to provide the material needs of food, shelter, and clothing, along with basic secular and religious education. Beyond that, my children are not entitled to a new car, a college education, or a big wedding. They’re not entitled to a certain standard of living, either. They’re only entitled to having their basic needs met by me and their father until they’re capable of providing for their own needs.

Second, we’re not going to compromise our family’s quality of life now to save for something our kids may not even need in the future. We have no idea what vocation God will call our children to; to follow Him, they may not even need a college education or a wedding. If they’re unsure of their vocational calling as young adults, they can go into the workforce or military. Too many young people go to college with no clear vocational direction, spending their parents’ money or racking up debt for themselves unnecessarily.

If God does call our children to a professional career that requires college or to married life, they can 1) worry about it once they discern that call, and 2) trust that God will provide what they need THEN to follow His will. Jesus tells us over and over that we’re to trust God to provide what we need, when we need it.

And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. (Luke 12)

Obviously, we have to work and do our part, too. We also have to be good stewards of His financial gifts and part of that is saving money when we can. Even then, though, like everything else, we must consider the reason we save and its impact on our spiritual lives and families. It’s hard to argue that saving to afford another child, for a sterilization reversal, for emergencies, or for retirement is the same as saving to buy your teenager a car or a lavish wedding day. “What’s the highest good we can achieve by using God’s money?” we’re required to ask. Rarely is the answer, “To pay for things my adult child may want in the future.”

My three older kids actually fight over who’s going to play with and take care of our 2-year-old toddler. What a loss if we’d stopped having children to save for the older ones to go to college.

One of the saddest outcomes I’ve seen among couples who believe they’re obligated to pay for college is that they limit their family size to do so. I simply can’t imagine God wanting us to deprive our children of more siblings so we can save for the day when one or two of them might need to go to college. A sibling is a friend given to you by God to accompany and support you on the journey of life. My youngest sister, Darlene, is priceless to me. I’m the oldest and she’s the fourth child; I shudder to imagine the richness my life would have lost without her in it, if our parents had decided to stop at two kids to save for my college or wedding. A sibling is an incomparable gift infinitely more valuable to our children than any future financial benefit we can offer them.

Finally, paying your own way builds character and we don’t serve our children when we pay for things that are actually their responsibility to earn. I’ve seen so many middle-aged couples who’ve taken out a second mortgage, dipped into retirement savings, or even taken on a second job to pay for their child’s college or wedding. No matter how extravagant, selfish, or unnecessary the child’s wedding wish, the parents bend over backwards to provide it because it’s their baby’s “special day.” They forfeit their own financial security to cater to their adult children, spending money they don’t have because they can’t bear to say those terrifying four words: “We can’t afford that.” Or better yet, “Pay for it yourself.”

If my kids want a big wedding, they can work, save, and pay for it. If they want a new car, they can work, save, and pay for it. If they want to go to college, they can apply for scholarships and grants, work part-time, and take out loans to pay for it. They can decide whether wracking up $120,000 in student loans to earn $30,000 a year as a teacher is prudent, or whether half that time at community college and the rest at a cheaper state college would achieve the same goal. Let them learn to assess the true value of things and decide whether the sacrifices to obtain it are worth it. It’s amazing how frugal young people become when they’re bankrolling the venture, not mom and dad.

I also want my children to become caring adults who consider others’ needs before their own. Which is why they won’t see me or their father taking out an extra mortgage or working overtime in our 50s or 60s to provide things they ought to be earning themselves. I attended a reputable liberal arts college in the mid-1990s, and saw countless young adults disregard the financial sacrifices their parents made to pay for their education. I’ll never forget my roommate calling her parents and screaming at them because they hadn’t sent enough spending money in the latest care package. (Never mind that her middle-class parents had taken out personal loans to put both her and her sister through college at the same time.) Most whose parents were footing the bill for college expected their parents to pay for spring break vacations to a tropical locale, too. My peers’ lack of gratitude was disgusting. And that was 20 years ago; young people today have an even stronger sense of entitlement toward their parents.

I’m sure by now my husband and I sound like stingy, selfish ogres. We’re really not. Like all parents, we want our children to lead happy and productive lives and to the extent we’re able, we’ll help them financially–when they NEED it. But the fact is, our family is solidly middle class and we have five children (so far). Whatever financial help we’re able to provide will necessarily be limited to what we can spare without compromising more important goals like having more children, providing for our younger children’s needs, and saving for retirement.

Even if we got a huge windfall tomorrow, however, and became fabulously wealthy, we still would not be financially supporting our adult children. We’d still expect them pay for the majority of their college education. We’d expect them pay their dues, which means making their own sacrifices to reach their goals. And be grateful for whatever we can contribute to their goals, without feeling entitled to spending our money as if it’s their own.

Yeah, it’s tough love. And I expect plenty of folks to disagree…especially our children! Oh, well. They’ll just have to thank us in hindsight.

33 comments
  • Jeanne G.September 6, 2012 - 7:12 am

    The problem with not paying for college is that when your kids fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), your income and assets are taken into account unless they are legally emancipated or married. This was my problem as a teenager going into college. If they are paying for it themselves, they will end up paying more because they will be less eligible for aid.ReplyCancel

  • KathySeptember 6, 2012 - 7:45 am

    I agree with you. The only good argument I’ve heard against this thought is that you don’t want your kids starting their married lives thousands of dollars in debt.

    I went to a local college and therefore got to live at home (free room and board) but I did work and pay for my own tuition, books, car, insurance, etc. My parents had money set aside for us kids to borrow *interest free* if we wanted to go to another school. I think that’s a nice compromise.ReplyCancel

  • ColleenSeptember 6, 2012 - 7:52 am

    Jeanne – That is a problem, one that I actually faced because my parents made a good income. Their income is going to play into it regardless, though – I wouldn’t have been less eligible for financial aid because they weren’t paying for anything. I would simply be responsible for the “parent contribution” as well.

    My fundamental problem with the whole college thing is that it’s assumed tat a $20k, $30k, or $40k a year college education is *necessary*. I attended a pricy Catholic college my freshman year because I received an almost-full-ride scholarship. After my first year (which was wonderful, by the way!) my scholarship greatly decreased. I was not willing to end up with $50k in student loan debt, so I moved back home and attended the local community college. For $58 a credit hour. And I worked a full-time job while I did it. I’m now married and finishing at a state university. The cost of my CC/state university education from start to finish? $13,000. I know I would have regretted the $50k in debt tremendously – the reason I am able to stay at home with our children now is because we don’t have significant outstanding debt.

    There are definitely ways to go to college without having a 529 account, parents who are paying it all for you, and tremendous student loans!ReplyCancel

  • StephanieSeptember 6, 2012 - 8:45 am

    I agree. We are putting money away. It may help with college one day, or a wedding (which will NOT be a TLC or Bridezilla event), or just to use for our 4 kids later in life. BUT, my husband and I have agreed not to let the kids in on the secret 😉

    As far as our kids are concerned they are expected to earn scholarships and/or pay their own way- that’s what we did. My husband went through Xavier (private Catholic college) on a full ride for 4 years. I paid my way through state college.

    And I’m not sure if it’s still true- but when I complained to my financial aid advisor that I had to provide my parents taxes even though they didn’t pay for school I was told that if my parents didn’t claim me on taxes and I could prove it (so still provide their returns) my financial aid would increase. :).ReplyCancel

  • JessicaSeptember 6, 2012 - 9:52 am

    I love your point about how sad it would be to deprive a child of another sibling just to possibly provide them with money for college some day.

    Although my family wasn’t huge (3 bio kids), my parents were constantly taking in people in need including a neighbor boy that lived with us for years and we consider our brother. I would never have traded that upbringing for the possibility of having less in college loans.ReplyCancel

  • KellyWSeptember 6, 2012 - 9:54 am

    Thank you for this timely and practical approach! I am the youngest of 5 children and our parents made us a deal -either we could go to the Catholic high school or they’d help us with the same amount for college. We all chose the Catholic high school and we all took out student loans, worked, saved, scrimped, postponed school, etc. in order to pay our own way. Years later, I don’t feel cheated or abused or neglected or… I appreciate that my parents made sacrifices to provide for EVERYTHING else and that it was just the way it was – we pay for college (if we chose to attend)
    My husband and I are newly married and his sons are college-age and I cannot believe the sense of entitlement that they have but, worse, that he and his ex-wife have instilled in them. They are throwing $24,000 at the Freshman who isn’t sure he even wants to go but off he went on an all-expense paid vacation from chores, curfew, nagging, work, etc. to college. I’ve been insane trying to be the voice of reason. I thought I was just “mean” or that I was “un-caring” but if so, at least there’s two of us (you and me!!)
    God bless!ReplyCancel

  • CindySeptember 6, 2012 - 10:35 am

    I’m going to go link to this right now, it’s so spot on with what I blogged about today. Thanks for this! Love it!ReplyCancel

  • Allison HowellSeptember 6, 2012 - 10:36 am

    Misty, I agree 100% ~ so good to hear someone else say it (And we have 7 kids; the eldest just graduated from high school, has a job, and is taking local classes part time.)!ReplyCancel

  • […] to be necessary to happiness or success, though. There are lots of ways make an honest living. (Catholic Sistas (no I am still not Catholic) has a good post about that, […]ReplyCancel

  • KittySeptember 6, 2012 - 11:16 am

    As a current college student, I have been fortunate enough to have parents who sometimes didn’t go on vacations, rarely ate out, and were smart financially. They were able to pay roughly half of my tuition at one of the cheapest state schools in my state; the other half was mostly taken care of by scholarships and a few grants.

    However, it would have been impossible for me to have paid for everything on my own without taking out loans. If I needed to have a full-time job in addition to being a full-time student, I would not have been able to cultivate my spiritual life, as I have used the leisure time in college to do. I also would not have the friendships that have sustained me over the last three years. I wouldn’t have been able to attend that lecture, or that holy hour, or that lazy Saturday afternoon hang-out session because I would have been working.

    Yes, boomerang graduates are a problem, but there are very strong benefits to allowing college students to have more unstructured time, as well. In my experience it can lead them to God. I think it is unhealthy if we want all of our students to not only study 40+ hours a week but also support themselves at the same time. Yes, maybe that was possible when tuition cost under $1000 for a year, but today it’s maybe expecting too much.ReplyCancel

  • AmandaSeptember 6, 2012 - 12:02 pm

    Stehanie, unfortunately it’s not that easy, you’d have to be legally emancipated to not count parents on student financial aid. I know because my parents kicked my sisters and I out (mom had an alcohol problem) and we all struggled to pay our own way through college and I looked into every possible avenue to get around that pesky requirement for my parents tax returns counting for financial aid.

    But, even with all that, all 3 of us managed to get through college and I got through with less than $15,000 in student loan debt so my payments were very very manageable and I was able to pay down extra my first year as a teacher before I had kids. I worked 3 jobs to do that and had scholarships, but it is doable. And I got an excellent education at my state university, I don’t feel I missed out on academic rigor or preparation for my career at all.

    I see my job as a parent to provide the education necessary for my kids to get into a good college, qualify for academic scholarships, and to know how they can responsibly get their degree without tons of debt. I will gladly drive them to normal extra-curriculars, science fairs, and help them fill out a bazillion scholarship essays in high school. I will also gladly drive them to and from work without complaint while they work to save up for their own car. Then when they’re in college I will be around to provide a sympathetic ear and advice while they sort through adjusting to adult life. I’m sure my husband and I will move them in and out of their dorm room all 8 times 🙂 Or if they want to stay and live with us as full-time students or during their first year working full-time then that’s fine too. Whichever ones get married will have my enthusiastic support and love as well as my time and skills to put into planning a beautiful wedding. I think there are so many obligations parents have that have absolutely nothing to do with paying for college or a wedding. What I missed out on most as a young adult was not my parents’ financial resources, it was support and advice along the way, a soft place to land when life gets hard (as it inevitably does). That’s what my husband and I are committed to providing for our children, not, like Misty said, an extended adolescence.ReplyCancel

  • LauraSeptember 6, 2012 - 12:13 pm

    Misty, this is a wonderful post. I have two daughters who are college age and 5 younger than that. We simply cannot afford anything! I feel bad about that sometimes, but your article set me straight. Thank you so much! God Bless.ReplyCancel

  • TinaSeptember 6, 2012 - 1:07 pm

    My parents informed my from day 1 they had no intentions of paying for college. I got enough scholarships to pay for college. I did well enough that I got my first masters’ degree paid for as well. And my PhD. 🙂

    Unfortunately, I can’t find a job and have boomeranged back. sigh.ReplyCancel

  • RachelSeptember 6, 2012 - 1:18 pm

    This is a very tricky situation.

    I went to an expensive private Catholic college and loved every second of it. I also believe that it was worth every penny. The understanding of my faith, the true community, the friendships, AND the education I received is virtually impossible to give a value. My mom paid $1,000 a semester,bought some books, and left the rest to me.

    I started working at 16, and worked hard. In the summers starting when I was 16 I worked 60-75 hours a week. I cut back during my senior year of high school to about 30 hours, but once summer started I was back to my crazy schedule. Every summer while I attended college I worked those hours. When I was in college I also worked. My first three years I only worked about 10 hours a week on campus, but my senior year I took an off campus job and worked 24-32 hours. After graduation I worked two jobs, totaling 65 hours a week, in order to pay off my student loans. Once I was debt free I couldn’t believe how easy working just one 40 hour a week job was. It was shocking.

    I have two friends who’s parents did not pay for their college and both of them ended up paying a lot more than I did, because their parent’s income was deemed relevant to the Financial Aid office. The first friend ended up having to get a combination of various outside loans that cost him more in one year than I paid for my entire four years. The other was even worse off. (Also, both of these friends, and myself, were claimed on taxes by our parents…)

    This might sound like I advocate parents paying for college, but I don’t. I do think people, including kids, need to be self-reliant. However, I think it would be much more appropriate to take each child case by case and not make a blanket statement. I do NOT want my 16 year old daughter to have to work as many hours as I did. I do NOT want to make my child pay additional money because my income is counted in her financial aid package.ReplyCancel

  • Margaret BSeptember 6, 2012 - 1:26 pm

    I see mommy & daddy paying for everything these days. Yet, they don’t teach fiscal responsibility. Thank you, Misty.ReplyCancel

  • AdrienneSeptember 6, 2012 - 2:21 pm

    Misty… yup.

    When deciding (hopefully, rather, discerning) to have another child, and the factors are taken into account it’s best to think of the not yet conceived child looking back on the entirety of his life, asking if he thought his life in total was worth living? Because these questions equate the value of a lifetime the the existence of one issue.

    Do you think your future child will look back on his entire lifetime and wish he’d never been born because mom and dad didn’t pay for his college?

    Do you think your future child will look back on her entire lifetime and wish she’d never been born because mom and dad didn’t provide her a lavish wedding?

    Do you think your future child will look back on his entire life and wish he’d never been born because he had to share mom and dad with many siblings?

    Do you think your future child will look back on her entire life and wish she’d never been born because of her birth defect?

    Spelling it out in another direction…

    At the end of yours or your not yet conceived child’s life, will you wish they had never existed because you didn’t pay for their college, or their wedding, or because you had “too many” kids, or because he/she had a disability?

    Is the entire value of a life really equal to the existence of one struggle?

    Thanks for this, Misty.ReplyCancel

  • AlessandreSeptember 6, 2012 - 2:57 pm

    @Tina, if you’ve not already done so, register at as many local temp agencies as possible & consider using your education in another field. i.e. my degree was in English Lit but I also love math & finances. I wound up working as a case manager at a law firm on cases that involved issues of finance. I spent 12 years hating law before I realized that I’d have hated being an atty but loved what I did because I’ve got a legal mind & though I’m creative, I’m also very organized & love to teach. being a case manager allowed me to be do all three. also, doing some temp work lets you earn money now & might lead to a permanent job.

    God has work for you, you just may not know what it is & it might not be in the field you imagined or He might lead you there in a circuitous fashion. as an adult, you must take responsibility for yourself. do everything you can & trust Him. He’s provided this far, trust that He’ll continue to do so – you don’t think all those scholarships were just your doing, do you?

    ps: I won scholarships to Barnard & Columbia & know that though I’m smart, they were His gifts.ReplyCancel

  • AlisonSeptember 6, 2012 - 3:24 pm

    Thank you for the thoughtful article, Misty. My husband and I hope to have a large family and would never limit our size of family for financial reasons, but we still feel called to save money for our children’s education. We hope to one day be able to help pay for my children’s college. I don’t know how much we’ll be able to save up, but it is definitely one of our goals. Obviously, we will encourage them to earn scholarships.

    I just disagree with the assumption a lot of people make that if a child gets his college education paid for that he will party, waste his time, and grow up to be spoiled and entitled. I think that is a pretty sweeping generalization, and it’s one that I commonly hear. My husband had his college paid for by his parents, as did his six other siblings. Yet, none of them missed class or grew to be entitled brats. They all greatly appreciated their parent’s generosity and all of them graduated on time or early and got a job right out of college and supported themselves. I, on the other hand, paid my own way and graduated with debt. I moved back in with my parents and paid them rent while I paid down my student loans and was engaged. Both of our families treated the college situation differently, but neither my husband nor I turned out spoiled.

    I think how you raise your children during their first 18 years is much more indicative of whether or not you are going to end up with entitled, spoiled children who can’t support themselves. I don’t think that paying for their college education in itself spoils children – I think it’s how the children were raised during their first 18 years of life that causes them to be entitled and blow their parents’ money. I just wanted to add this because at the end of your article, I felt like saving money for your children’s college education was portrayed as an ignoble action and I think both situations are valid.

    I agree with a lot of what you say until the end where you say, “Even if we got a huge windfall tomorrow, however, and became fabulously wealthy, we still would not be financially supporting our adult children. We’d still expect them pay for the majority of their college education.” Personally, if we had a huge windfall tomorrow and became fabulously wealthy, we WOULD pay for our children’s college because we would trust that we had raised them to be grateful, responsible Catholic young adults who would appreciate our generosity and use our money wisely.ReplyCancel

  • AngieSeptember 6, 2012 - 3:37 pm

    I am so glad to see this. I am a single girl and do not plan on having kids, but I see how today’s generation caters to their children so much, and not just college. I have seen this in my family and it makes me cringe. When it came to college I made a decision early on to not have my parents pay it, and I communicated that to them. Not sure if they were comfortable with it, but I did not want to put that burden on them because they are such good parents. They fed me and clothed me, and while they did not want me to work while I was in school, it was not for pampering but because they wanted me to focus in school and get good grades. In the end, yes I ended up having my first real debt but it built character.ReplyCancel

  • BernadineSeptember 6, 2012 - 4:15 pm

    It’s interesting to read both sides in the comments, here.
    My parents made it clear early on that they would not be paying for my college, AND not providing their tax info for financial aid. How did I manage? I took a year off after high school, saved up some money, went to the state college in town for 2 1/2 years, paying for the relatively low fees by myself, working two part-time jobs and living at home (paying rent) for the first year, living with some other Catholic girls ($200/mo) for the second year and a half. I used my parents’ car when I could, and had to get rides the rest of the time. I rode the campus bus during the day. Turns out I was able to help my parents purchase a (used) family vehicle they otherwise could not have afforded, while living with the Catholic friends. My brother spent 5 months in military training, during which I was able to use his car. The rest of the time I used the family car except when the family needed it (mostly for Mass attendance on Sundays). I didn’t even own my own car until after college.

    I transferred to an expensive Catholic college out east (where I had always wanted to go) with only $1500 in debt from my last semester at the state college (when my finances finally caught up with me). By this time I had qualified as an independent student, having done my own taxes for a couple years, so even though my scholarship was small, I received a grant, used the work-study job and sold candy, popcorn, fruit snacks, trail mix, bottled water, juice and pop out of my dorm room to make extra money. I DID receive a $3000 loan from a friends’ parents in order to attend my first semester at the Catholic college, which I payed back in smaller increments even while attending the Catholic college (this couple was kind enough to forgive almost half the loan as a late graduation gift a few years later).

    All in all I graduated with somewhere around $15K in debt, which I started paying off in larger amounts than necessary before I was required to. I finished paying it off (with my husband’s help) a couple years after getting married – about 3 1/2 yrs after graduation. My husband still has $$K in debt from HIS college (he regrets not going to a jr. college or state college for his degree in computer science, as DeVry cost more than a “pretty penny”). My parents occasionally gave me a little money here and there, mostly in the form of paying for a plane ticket home from the Catholic college, but I worked my tail off to get through college, graduating with a B.A. in Engl. Lit. I feel blessed to have finished college, as I think it not only was an unforgettable experience, but the latter part of which introduced me to some great, life-long (I hope) friends, and helped me to grow spiritually in a way I would not have at home. I admit that my initial hope in going to college was to meet Mr. Right (and I didn’t meet him there), but in hindsight I’m glad I went anyway.

    But college is not for everyone. My sister did not attend college, and she is happily married, homeschooling the older 3 of her 6 children. She does not regret skipping college to just get married. And I don’t judge her for that at all. She is doing just fine. I also don’t plan to force college on any of my children. If they want to go, we will probably do as my parents did – help them with the occasional expense (plane ticket, expensive book, etc.), but they will be expected to earn their way through the way my husband and I did. The same goes for any other large expenses (like cars). We will help them with our advice, resources, shopping, but paying? Nope. I can see maybe paying for their insurance for a short time, but even that will not be limited. They will be welcome to live at home if they pay rent and obey the house rules (especially the girls), but I will not force them to stay home if they can afford to live on their own (however, I will encourage my girls to live at home until they discern and start to act on their vocation, as it is more fitting for a girl to be protected by her family until such a time).

    Saving is important, but saving in order to spoil your kids is asking for trouble! Alison DOES make a good point, though – raising your children to be responsible, Catholic adults will go a long way, and such children who prove they are responsible and keeping the Faith probably do deserve a little more “spoiling” (in moderation, of course).

    Kudos, Misty. Thanks for the great post!ReplyCancel

  • AllisonSeptember 6, 2012 - 4:59 pm

    I guess my family is in the minority here. My parents determined that my siblings and I were going to go to college (especially my sister and I) because when my mother was a senior in high school, she had all the stuff done to get into college but her father would NOT give his permission (which was apparently necessary for someone to go to college back then) so she never had the opportunity. She swore that her daughters would have the chance that was taken away from her. Hence my parents paying to send us to college.

    Secondly, I have discerned that my vocation lies with the Church in one way or another. You can’t go to the cheap community college or the state college for a Theology degree. I had a full ride to the local Jesuit college but when I was interviewing with the head of the “religious studies” department (who wasn’t even Catholic), instead of him interviewing me, I ended up interviewing him on his department. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed. While it was a painful thing for me and my parents, I had to drop the scholarship and attend another Catholic college that was MUCH more faithful to the Church (at least the Theology department was) on a lesser scholarship. I could never have begun to follow through on my vocational discernment without my parents’ help. I refuse to sacrifice my vocation and my parents agree with me on the altar of some false sense of “self-sufficiency.” BTW, I worked while I was home on breaks. I never asked my parents for money. All they covered was tuition. I saved, scrimped, and budgeted for books, incidentals, and the occasional bit of fun. Luckily, my friends and I knew how to have fun on a budget (usually playing Guitar Hero, watching hockey games, and walking around downtown sight-seeing).

    Maybe back in the day kids could pay their way through college on their own but nowadays, it’s MUCH harder. I had friends who were exhausted to the point of unhealthiness because they were working full-time and full-time students. What good is college if the stuff doesn’t stick because your physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.

    Also, I am picking up on a generalization that I find offensive. Not all children whose parents pay for their college are entitled little trust fund babies or the offspring of indulgent parents. I come from a more affluent area and my parents REFUSED to raise us with any sense of entitlement. Instead of going to the richy-richy parish grade school, we went to the more economically-diverse parish grade school. We could have gone to the pricey Catholic girls high school but we went to the one on the border of the city that was in a more depressed area but offered an excellent education.

    Yes, there are kids with entitlement chips on their shoulders that need a good smack of common sense and reality but to make such a generalization does nothing productive.ReplyCancel

  • EllieSeptember 6, 2012 - 5:17 pm

    I love this post. I am grateful that my parents paid only a very small part of my college expenses. I received scholarships, took out some small loans, attended technical college for a couple years, changed my major twice, and worked part-time or full-time jobs all throughout the SIX years of my education. And then I moved to Korea and worked as an English teacher. Within seven months, I was completely debt free.

    Of course, I sometimes felt as though my “normal” friends had a much better deal, but I wouldn’t trade any of it now. I learned a lot about responsibility, true needs, and trust. I gained a deeper appreciation for my parents and others who did help me out. I learned about planning, budgeting, consequences, and patience.

    I completely agree that you don’t have to attend an expensive college – if you attend at all. And you don’t have to complete your degree in four years (or less), either.ReplyCancel

  • ErinSeptember 6, 2012 - 9:46 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. It has always blown my mind that parents seem to be expected to pay for college. My parents didn’t pay for my degree, and I don’t intend to pay my four children’s way, if they choose to go. I believe young adults need to have a vested interest in their own education. I’ve seen too many kids use college as a time to go wild and blow off steam, all on their parents’ dime.ReplyCancel

  • SusanSeptember 7, 2012 - 7:32 am

    Proverbs 13:16
    A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn’t, and even brags about it!

    Luke 14:28-30
    For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? “Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish. ‘”ReplyCancel

  • BSeptember 7, 2012 - 12:31 pm

    We have two children by God’s calling and choose to save a small amount for their college education. We are extremely blessed by the income God has provided for us and feel called to use those funds helping others outside our family. I think the thought that families that feel called to limit their family size are not realizing the blessings they are missing out by having a large family is a little off base. We are blessed ten-fold by the gifts we are able to give, while being a blessing to others. I think it’s wonderful that you have realized your calling. Please understand that others may having a different calling than yours and that God is at work in all of our lives in different ways. Many blessings to you and your family!ReplyCancel

  • LWSeptember 7, 2012 - 3:13 pm

    I’d just like to throw my two cents in, being a recent college grad you’d probably classify as “entitled.”

    I was a given a car to drive in high school and college (and will soon buy off my parents) as long as I paid for the gas. My parents paid for my education and my semester abroad (I paid for my own extra travels) in Europe as well as a weeklong business trip to Africa.

    I graduated in four years, and by the end of my FIRST semester of senior year had three job offers (2 corporate jobs and 1 with FOCUS). During my four years at an extremely large (40,000 students), liberal university I helped turn around our campus ministry which I was president of and start a Students for Life group.

    I wouldn’t have been able to achieve all of this in 4 years if my parents hadn’t helped set me up for success in college and my post-graduation life by funding my education. This isn’t to say I wasn’t expected to help contribute – I worked for several semesters as a tour guide to get $$ credit towards my housing, had internships during summer breaks, and had an academic scholarship. My tuition from study abroad was mostly paid for by scholarships because of my high GPA.

    I wasn’t any less invested in my education because it was paid for. And as a side note….I’d venture to guess kids that come out of college with a mountain of debt are MORE likely to move back in with their parents because they can’t afford to strike out on their own.

    Oh & also…I’m free to enter religious life if I do discern that’s God’s will. I am not prevented from entering freely by $80,000 worth of school loans like many young adults.ReplyCancel

    • Lee AnnMarch 1, 2016 - 5:24 pm

      I wish we had children who were not so entitled. They seem to feel owed in a big way. They betrayed us and manipulated us to extort as much as they could possibly get. They treated us with disdain but felt they should be given as much as they requested. Maybe if they would have been honest, they would have been rewarded. Some people just have kids like ours and that is so sad. They were never present when we needed them but are quit to point our how they feel we didn’t do enough for them. Relationships are reciprocol.ReplyCancel

  • AllisonSeptember 7, 2012 - 4:37 pm

    It’s me again. Can we please cut it with the generalizations? Holy Mother Church, not all college students use their time there as a “time to go wild and blow off steam, all on their parents’ dime.” And just because some of our parents paid for our college education does not mean we don’t have a “vested interest” in our education.

    If I didn’t give two licks about my education, I would not have studied my hide off all through high school and … *gasp* into college (which “mommy and daddy” paid for because I am apparently a spoiled child with no sense of personal responsibility according to all these horrible generalizations).

    Never mind the fact that after spending some time in the convent and discerning out because there were things going on that should not have been, I came home and determined that I want to go to grad school for Theology (there goes cheap grad school). I am finding all possible means of paying for it in the form of grants and diocesan aid and I will pay the rest. If I need help, I am sure my parents will help me but I will pay them back.

    So quit with the “all kids whose parents pay for their college education are nothing but spoiled, immature mooches who don’t know the meaning of personal responsibility and maturity” generalizations and malarcky, it’s only indicating your ignorance and myopic view of the issue.

    Oh, and the whole schtick about the “boomerang generation”? I live at home with my parents. I have to. I can’t afford to live on my own. After I left the convent I had nothing and I refuse to receive government aid, give it to someone who needs it. I live at home, I contribute to the household with work around the house, and I am working gradually toward independence. Not all members of this generation are mooches because they live at home. Some have to. The Lord forbid you realize that.

    And one of the reasons why so many kids are moving back home is because living on one’s own is expensive and when you are an unempolyed or under-employed recent college grad with loans to pay off, every bit helps. Would you rather us live on the streets with the satisfaction that we are self-sufficient and not “spoiled by indulgent parents who are keeping us from growing up?”

    I don’t apologize for any of what I have written. I am just disgusted that people can be so myopic about this issue. Do what you want with your money but don’t you dare use generalizations to cast a shadow on those who do otherwise.

    God bless you.ReplyCancel

  • BernadineSeptember 7, 2012 - 4:54 pm

    Dear Allison,
    I’m sorry you see the “generalizations” as a direct attack on you. I’m sure none of the ladies here mean that EVERY child whose parents pay for their college is spoiled, doesn’t work, doesn’t study, etc. But I think even you must admit that a LOT of children in such circumstances ARE those things and more. That’s where a generalization comes from. Just like we can say democrats in general are pro-choice (or liberal, or any number of other things), it doesn’t mean every single one is. I hope you can count your blessings and realize just how rare your situation is. And good for you! I’m glad you came out of it without being spoiled. As for the boomerang child business, I think a lot of us are, and your points are perfectly valid. There’s nothing wrong with a child returning home if the need is there and the parents don’t object, especially if they are contributing to the household in whatever way they can.
    God bless you!ReplyCancel

  • shelly7momSeptember 7, 2012 - 6:35 pm

    TOTALLY AGREE! And that’s our philosophy too! We don’t pay the way 🙂

    Seriously, it’s just the best thing for everyone. It IS a shame (another word??) how overly-expensive college is; that doesn’t mean that your child *has* to have tons of debt either. There are things to do to “lessen the blow”.ReplyCancel

  • LucySeptember 8, 2012 - 8:28 pm

    Misty, this is a great post. So nice to find a mom with good old-fashioned common sense.ReplyCancel

  • AllisonSeptember 10, 2012 - 1:25 pm

    Bernadine, you are missing my point completely. I was using myself as an illustrative device to prove that these blatant generalizations do not do any good. I am using my personal experiences and the experiences of countless members of my peers to show the inherent fallacies of the arguments (more like stereotypes under the guise of arguments) presented herein.

    Not even “a lot” of young adults who attend college get into constant drunken stupors, burn their parents’ money like the government, and spend their time in college in intellectual dissipation. The majority of college students (regardless of who is paying the bill) are there to learn.

    I think this is another case of where the minority makes the majority look bad. Kinda like the whole priest abuse thing. The minutest minority of priests did/do those intrinsically evil things but since the pedophile/homosexual priests are the ones who attract the most attention that must mean that there are more of them that we don’t know about them; it does nothing to tell the beautiful stories of all the priests who have remained faithful to Christ and His Church.

    Not all college students are drunken, promiscuous, money-burning, slothful oafs who spend their time sleeping in and around. To even think that “a lot” of them do it does nothing but pull down the vast majority of college students who remained persistent and faithful to their studies without wasting anything or getting wasted.

    All these generalizations and stereotypes do nothing to help those who actually study and apply themselves.

    And regardless of intention, to say that any parent who puts their kid/s through college is an “overly doting” parent or anything like that is just ignorant.

    I am sorry (no, I’m not), the logical structures of these arguments are so based on one’s personal interpretations of things, stereotypes, and things about which the writer/s have apparently no experience or firsthand knowledge that it totally discredits any credence any argument may have.

    Oh, and about the Democratic party, it has been agreed on by many Catholic political analysts that no Catholic in good conscience can vote for or support a candidate from the party when the platform of the party as a whole is overwhelming secular and anti-religious/Catholic and one of the cornerstones of their platform is the systematic killing of entire generations of children (our future vocations to priesthood, religious, consecrated, and married life). Ergo, we can’t really use that as an example regardless of how “pro-life” a candidate may be. If they don’t have chance in the party let alone to get the support of party voters, it’s a wasted vote. Some say those don’t exist but they do. It’s reality.

    Oh, and all my logical arguments and dissections come courtesy of the college education that my parents paid for that included a minor in philosophy which mandated at least one logic class. Not all college students study “womyn’s” studies/gender studies/underwater basket weaving.ReplyCancel

  • BernadineSeptember 10, 2012 - 2:48 pm

    Allison,
    You make some interesting points, but let me please point out a couple things:

    1) You said, “All these generalizations and stereotypes do nothing to help those who actually study and apply themselves.” I wasn’t making that assertion. As far as I know no one in this post was making that assertion. And words can only hurt someone if they let them (not to say that it’s okay to say what you want and not expect consequences, but I hope you see what I mean about that). I happen to know many who ARE lazy about either studying, working, being responsible in general or all of the above (no one said anything about these students sleeping in or around, or being in a constant drunken stupor – where do you get these ideas?), so this could be an endless argument, therefore let’s drop it.

    2) I, too, graduated from college. Obviously not the same one you did, but my college required a class in logic (which, of course, I took – maybe your teacher or curriculum was “better” than mine, or maybe you’re just a lot smarter than I am, but I still took the class and got a B), as well as classes in philosophy, theology (Catholic), English, a foreign language, history, poli-sci, and a few others. Those were REQUIREMENTS. Before that I was at a state university, where I took psychology, child development, Greek mythology, some English, history, computer, foreign language and other classes. I guess my point is that you seemed to be talking down to me as if I don’t know anything… I’m not the brightest scholar, but my GPA wasn’t too shabby.

    3) Every one of your posts have come across as very bitter. I think you should be aware that the highly emotional writing you have used only turns people off to your point. If you want to make a point, don’t make it so emotional and personal (at least that is my humble opinion, as well as that of many scholars with whom I’ve spoken about composing a written argument).

    4) Sorry you didn’t like my analogy of the Democratic party… I’ve never been great with analogies. I’m sure you could have come up with a better one.

    5) I want you to know that I am praying for you – we all need prayers. I hope you will pray for me, too. I wish you all the best in your continued studies. I do not wish to continue this argument, as I have 4 young children, a husband and a household to take care of, and these posts are taking up some precious time here. However, if you want to reply that’s fine. God bless!

    ~BernadineReplyCancel