What parts of college should parents pay for?

One of our regulars wants your input about how much financial backing parents should give to their college students. Here is what she is thinking about.

From Techmom:

“Our son is planning on moving off campus for his sophomore year so he’s looking at apartments. We agreed before he got to college that we would help with his college, including living expenses, as long as he maintained HOPE (3.0 GPA). Now we’re trying to decide what we will pay for and how much per month. He does have a part-time job and we expect him to contribute some as well. We don’t want to put an undue burden on him such that he would have to work more than 20 hours a week but we also don’t want to pay for everything so that he’s just turning around blowing his money on whatever he wants. We want him to feel like he’s responsible for his education as well so that he’s more likely to continue to study and go to class. All bets are off of course if he drops below a 3.0 GPA.”

“I’m curious what level of support other parents provide for their college students. We were thinking that we would cover his apartment and a little more to help with utilities (~$400 a month total) but he would be responsible for food and anything else he would need. Of course when he comes home or we go to visit, I’m sure we’ll make sure he’s stocked up, fill his tank up, buy him the occasional pair of jeans or new shoes but it won’t be a regular monthly contribution to his account. He currently has a small car payment for the truck he bought from us (yes, we’re those parents who didn’t just give our kid a vehicle when he turned 16!) and he pays for his own gas and any meals off campus or whatever else he does (party) while he’s away. We pay his car insurance and cell phone bill as well and will continue to, again, as long as he maintains the GPA.”

“We really don’t want him to take out student loans if he doesn’t have to and would rather he saved money over the summer and continue to work part time next school year. Neither my husband or I had any help from our parents once we graduated high school so this seems pretty fair to us and we consider it a blessing that he could potentially graduate without any debt. He is our only child and we are financially able to contribute to his college expenses but we’re also not the parents who like to give hand outs.”

I think this is a great topic and I can tell you what I saw with my students at ASU. I had many, many students who were working multiple jobs to pay for college. It was clear that because of the bad economy their parents were not able to contribute as much and the students were having to make it up through work, scholarship and loans. I really felt bad for some of my students who were working so much that they didn’t get their classwork turned in. Then they would get a bad grade and really what’s the point then. Many of them had jobs at stores and such to pay expenses but then also took jobs like at the student news station for experience relevant to their field of study.

I do think that the students paying for some, if not all, of their education had a much higher stake in how well they did. (I really like Techmom tying her financial support to his GPA. I think that’s smart.) Some of my favorite students were soldiers. They always worked so hard and were so appreciative to be there and not in Afghanistan. I always give very high recs to my solider-students.

Techmom also sent our questions for the end. (Thank you Techmom. I wanted to watch the Oscars and your blog helped me!)

“Should parents pay everything for their college student if they are able?
Should students be required to work while going to college?
How do you encourage your college student to apply for scholarships after their first year? Seems like it’s a big deal when they’re in HS but beyond that, no one goes looking for scholarships.
Do you have any other stipulations about what you pay for vs. what your college student pays for?”

49 comments Add your comment


March 3rd, 2014
12:39 am

My take: It really depends on the parents and their financial situation. I suspect there are many parents who feel guilt/inadequate/failure/etc. for not being able to provide a full ride for their children’s college education. I also think that there’s a lot to be said for the theory that kids are more appreciative of what they have to work for — be in a doll when they are 6, a video game when they are 10, a cool cell phone when they are 14, etc., etc. I don’t know what is “right” — I just have a feeling that parents shouldn’t beggar themselves trying to provide something they can’t afford — and very few parents CAN afford the full ride for college costs, these days.

Both of our children got almost-full scholarships to their universities. Both kept those scholarships throughout their four years. We paid for the difference in tuition, their housing, and an allowance for food. Their summer jobs paid for books, clothing, gas and entertainment. One child did not work during the school year because they would make enough at their summer job to maintain the college lifestyle they wanted. The other work 10-12 hours a week during the school year, in addition to summer jobs.

Should they be required to work? Ideally, I think the kids should do something to contribute to their educational experience. When my kids had to pay for their own books, they were scouring Amazon and eBay for used textbooks, sharing books with classmates, buying Kindle editions, etc. :-) I didn’t really encourage them to apply for additional scholarships, because we were satisfied with the scholarships they had received, and they maintained those scholarships well. They both received additional scholarships in addition to the schools’ scholarships, from their Scouts experiences, and academic performance awards — they weren’t much, but they helped.

I didn’t pay for spring break trips or fraternity/sorority monthly dues — basically, their social life was on their own dime. :-)

To add another wrinkle that high school parents may not consider: Internships. It’s a cost a lot of people do not budget for — I know we didn’t. Very few internships are paid. My son put in his time as an intern in two different organizations after he graduated — one, thankfully, led to a paying job. :-) But he needed help with living expenses for six months — rent in a high-price market, appropriate work clothing, food, transportation, etc. Ouch – hadn’t planned on that. My daughter is currently completing a required six-month internship that she must complete before her degree is conferred and she can apply to take her board exam for her career. Luckily, she found an approved internship here in Atlanta and was able to live at home, so her expenses were drastically less. Neither of them were really able to take on a second job during their internship, due to irregular internship hours, except for occasional babysitting or referee gigs.


March 3rd, 2014
6:06 am

Government financial aid determines a student’s “family contribution” based on parents’ income, assets, etc. I knew several students whose parents wouldn’t contribute much or anything towards tuition & expenses even though they were middle class or upper middle class. Since these students were not eligible for any grants, they had to take out even larger loans than normal. Fair or not, it happens a lot.

The university’s financial aid office even listed in their “frequently asked questions” that there is nothing their office can do if parents refuse to contribute to your college education.


March 3rd, 2014
7:45 am

My parents paid for NOTHING. At graduation, I got a check for $1000.00. This was 1982. OOPS sorry I am wrong, I had a 1965 ( in 1978) Ford station wagon and they did pay for that and the insurance. As many know, I worked at Wal Mart. My husband did not finish college. He went into the military. It has taken him a LONG time to get where he is at, with his job and he is doing quite well. His parents had no intention of paying for any college either.

We have paid for apartments, car, insurance, cell phone and assisted with books. They both had HOPE. We also pitch in money for other unexpected things. My two have both had jobs the entire time. They also have student loans: especially my son, who went for 8 years and has a Doctorate and a six figure job at 26. We plan to now help them with their loans or with a down payment on a house and that will be their choice. No one from either of our families has given either them a dime for college. I am not complaining but some families do help.

Government assistance…haha! As prudent savers, we have too much in the bank. Guess we should have drive nicer cars, stretched out our mortgage, eaten out and taken fancier vacations.

I know some college kids who have NEVER had a part time job. I do not think this will sit well with employers who have to start them out with $45,000 when they never made $10 an hour. I do hear this from those who are on the hiring end of things.

So far, we have not had to face the $$$ for internships ( i know it is expensive) as my son started with his company at 16 and they offered him a wonderful position with a wonderful salary. Our daughter is with hospitality now. She recently won employee of the week. It was a new award and they gave it to her first. ( yes I am proud and pleased that they recognize her hard work). She had been there for 3 months. She was surprised.Her group has 4 properties. She went to meet the boss and he told her, ” What they said about you is true ( huh? Your smile lights up the room!” We are hopeful that she will be able to stay with the parent company or otherwise transfer to one of the thousands of locations nationally, when she graduates with her business degree. Time will tell.

My two have worked part time since they were 14 and that is just how we do things around here. Their jobs have taught them a lot about things you cannot learn in college.

Atlanta Mom

March 3rd, 2014
7:50 am

My kids had scholarships to cover tuition. We paid room and board. They were on there own for spending money and books (and a car if they wanted one). When they moved off campus, we paid them what we had been paying the university. Generally speaking they came out ahead because they could eat much cheaper than what the university charged.


March 3rd, 2014
8:02 am

To techmom’s specific question: I would pay the part of his rent etc expenses that you would pay if he lived on campus. If moving out of the dorm is so important, he can foot the bill for the rest. JMHO. So if (this is completely made up) his dorm and meal expenses were 2,000 per quarter, I would continue putting that in (as long as I can, that is, assuming I had been paying that.)

For me: my parents paid it all. I worked only one semester, as an RA in the summer. I took overloads and finished in three years, magna cum laude. THAT was “my job.” But they could afford to do that. There were no student loans back then, no AP courses. Yep, the dark ages.

For my kids: As a single parent, FAFSA deemed me to have little responsibility. Of course, that meant my kids have significant loans. Their father contributed absolutely nothing. I took care of what was left, and they worked part-time. That is how our life situation was. Their primary goal was to do well and finish in 4 years–not a semester more! And the two girls did. (The son never has finished–YET. Spoken like a mama)They both went to private colleges and they got massive gift aid, but it was still very expensive. Do either regret it? Nope.

Mother of 2

March 3rd, 2014
8:03 am

I know a family in GA that pay for room and board, but not tuition. The student is expected to keep his grades up so that he gets either Zell Miller or HOPE. I like this idea because the student will have minimal costs as long as he maintains his grades. A friend from outside GA pays for tuition, room and board, but the student pays for books and all other expenses. Also a great idea because there are many different options for books these days. Parties are on your own dime.

My college son is pretty frugal, so his college expenses have been minimal. We paid for tuition, room and board, and books. Dinners out with friends and other entertainment were his responsibility. He got a large scholarship, which he has kept all 4 years. My younger son is headed to college in the fall. We will be paying for tuition, room and board, and books. My kids did not get cars, so parking passes aren’t an issue. They aren’t forced to work because we feel like being a serious student is their job. Also, we don’t pay for fraternities. My older son didn’t join a fraternity, and I expect that my younger son won’t either.

With respect to applying for scholarships once they are in college, these can be hard to find and even harder to win. A simple conversation with the student should be all that is needed to get them to look for and apply. Just remember that they should choose the scholarships that they have some degree of likeliness of actually getting. The applications can be very time consuming. If there is no chance of getting the scholarship, don’t bother.

TnT's Mom

March 3rd, 2014
8:10 am

A few years ago when my oldest graduated, he took loans and we scraped together the rest from some savings bonds he had and a loan from his grandfather. The first semester did not go well, and he came home in December. We then told him that he would have to do it on his own going forward. He grew up a lot that spring and decided that he indeed wanted a college education and found a way to pay for it. He joined the Army National Guard. That covers tuition; he gets paid for his monthly weekend drill exercises and also gets a monthly stipend through the Montgomery GI Bill. He has a part time job and works full time during the summers to save up.

He is now at school, living on his own, paying his own rent, food, gas and anything social. We still pay for his cell phone as it is still on our family plan and is really not a huge monthly expense. We also pay his truck insurance as he can get discounts being part of our policy, only about $36 a month. So we are contributing less than $100 a month for his expenses. We occasionally send him a restaurant gift card for him to have a nice meal out. And when he comes home, he raids the fridge and pantry.

I think students who have some skin in the game and contribute something their education do value it more. I also think most students should work part time. It teaches them valuable life lessons that they cannot get in a classroom. I have heard of research and studies that say students with jobs actually do better at school and have better time management skills.

I don’t believe that it is a parent’s responsibility to provide a college education for their children. If they can comfortably afford to do so then that is their choice to handle however the wish. I think is a parent’s responsibility to raise children into self-sufficient adults.


March 3rd, 2014
8:16 am

@catlady…living off campus has been less expensive for both of my children who went to UGA.

My daughter will have an extra semester, she changed her major. That is fine with me as she is still heading in the same direction. I too went 4 1/2 years as some requirements were changed in my degree halfway through. I also worked at Wal Mart the entire time.

MIne both had cars and made their car payments, until finished. I bought my son a car before he headed to his rotation in NM, as I knew his would not make it ( he had it for 8 years). He is paying me back. Sorry but I cannot just give him a car.

Parking passes on campus are $$$$. My daughter lives off campus and takes the shuttle most days.

Our end of the expenses, per month, is about $650-$700 and we pay what I mentioned above.


March 3rd, 2014
8:20 am

We started 529 plans for each child when they were born. Both sets of grandparents contributed to the plans. 2 of my 3 have graduated with college degrees. The third child is a sophomore up in Dahlonega.

I feel it is a parents responsibility to educate their children as far as they can go. There is so much money out there available for college education. But if you start early, there is enough for college expenses.

We paid ALL expenses for the first year for each chip. After that, they had to get a job to support their lifestyles. We paid for the education, housing, books, etc. They paid for the rest…i.e. food, entertainment, etc.


March 3rd, 2014
8:22 am

I’m surprised no one else has mentioned the 529 plans……


March 3rd, 2014
8:36 am

@ Macy…if grandparents contribute that is wonderful…some do not. I laughed at what you FEEL. Of course, it is your right to have that opinion and that is not what I am laughing about. There are lots of things that I FEEL are the parent’s responsibility: teeth brushing, homework, meals, bedtime, bathing, appropriate clothes and shoes for school and so much more. In my world, parents are shirking these responsibilities. catlady?

We did not have $$$ for a 529 on the front end. As it is, our kids come home and say..”wow we never got to do/have _______ when we were growing up…why now?” UM…we did NOT have much money leftover when they were younger.

I forgot to mention that some employers do have scholarships for their employees. Our son had this all the way through. Our daughter did not choose to work with that kind of employer. In hind sight, she should have as she is with now with one that would have given her some $$$ if she had started earlier.


March 3rd, 2014
8:37 am

oops: now with one…


March 3rd, 2014
9:19 am

My husband and I had very disparate experiences. I grew up upper middle class. My parents paid for college tuition, room and board, and gave me a monthly stipend. The agreement being I focus on school and do well. I’d been a good student my whole life. I wasn’t such a great student in college, however. I’d grown up very sheltered so I kind of went wild with freedom when I got to college. I did eventually straighten out and my grades went back up. I also eventually started working because I was bored and I wanted more money than the stipend my parents gave me. I did not, until grad school, appreciate what my parents did for me. And they didn’t just do it for me. I’m one of 5 kids…they did that for all of us.

My husband grew up with a single mother who never made more than $10,000/year. His mother could contribute nothing. In fact, she decided to go to college at the same time he did. They both went on Pell grants and student loans. My husband also worked two jobs. One job was at the college post office and the other was in the service industry.

Now that we’ve together reached the upper middle class we’ve decided to use our own experiences to help guide the plan for our only child.

We will pay for tuition, room and board.
He will be required to keep up his grades to a 3.0.
He will be required to have a part-time job. But not a crappy minimum wage job. He’s going to work on campus as a lab assistant or some such degree-related job. He’s 13 and currently planning to be an engineer. We’re hoping he chooses GATech (it would be nice to see him for Sunday dinner, etc) and he will have ample opportunity to get a job in a lab.

My husband graduated with $40,000 in student loans, which isn’t bad considering what people carry today. And he’s halfway done paying them off. We would like to give our son the opportunity to start his post-grad life without any debt.

Fingers crossed the plan works!

Blue Fish in a Red Lake

March 3rd, 2014
9:22 am

In college, I did get a nice older car from my single-parent mom as I headed off into life on my own. Being a single parent, there were not a lot of resources to put toward my college – she kept money in my campus meal plan, and I did my part pre-college to make things happen – graduated top of my class, did extra-curricular activities, entered into whatever small award scholarship contests I could find. In the end, my first couple of years were paid for fully by scholarships. After that, I was getting a better idea of where my interests lay and found a perfect work-study job. That entailed working a quarter and then going to school for a quarter. Since my job was actually on campus, I even was able to work a couple of classes into my work quarters (with my employer’s permission!) and work part time during my school quarters. Taking that course, I graduated without any outstanding loans or significant debt.

I hope that my children can do something similar. I hope that the Hope Scholarships will still be available when they are ready to head off to college, which is something I did not have. I would imagine that we fall in the donut hole of college financial aid – make too much to qualify for income based assistance, but not enough to just be able to just pay for it. And I imagine it’s not going to get any cheaper between now and then.

I am not sure what we’ll be able to offer by then, but I would plan on assisting my kids financially if they need it and we are able – though as others have mentioned, tying that assistance to maintaining a good overall GPA seems wise!


March 3rd, 2014
9:58 am

This is a good question…we only have one child so far (who was born in December) but we started a college savings fund a year ago. I don’t see things getting any cheaper in the next 18 years!

Interesting point about finding scholarships while in high school, but then nothing during college. I had a friend attend Vanderbilt, and her parents paid for the first year in full, but she applied for and won a partial scholarship her freshman year that covered much of her remaining 3 years there.

I received a full scholarship (FL Bright Futures) that covered tuition and most of my books, but my parents paid for everything else…including sorority dues and a car/insurance/cell phone. I know I was fortunate to have parents that were in a position to do all that for me. I also know that if my grades had slipped, we would have re-addressed some things. I always had summer jobs, but my major really did not allow for a part-time job during the school year (I had a couple classmates work as TA’s, but that’s about it).

My husband attended a military college on a full Navy scholarship (he is active duty). Food and housing were part of that (cadets lived on campus and took all their meals in the mess hall). He received a very small monthly stipend from the Navy, and occasionally his parents would put some money in his account ($50-100…nothing major). He paid for any extras (car, phone, insurance) with money he earned through summer jobs.

As far as our kids’ college goes…we’ll have my husband’s GI Bill benefits, which pays for the equivalent of 4 years of credit hours (approx 120?) as well as the college savings we’ll have. I’d like to be able to cover as much as possible, as my parents did for me…ideally, our kids will graduate debt-free (although if they want to pursue grad school, they’ll likely be on their own!) I do think the student loan issue in this country is extremely problematic…kids are taking out tens of thousands of dollars, and either choosing majors which have low chances of stable/lucrative employment, or just not being able to find a job in this economy. I think parents have the responsibility of guiding their kids to make sound decisions about their major and realistic employment opportunities, etc. (i.e., do you want to take out $150K in loans to go to a private college and major in elementary edu, or could you do that at the state school and only take out 30K?)

As others have said...

March 3rd, 2014
10:49 am

…if the parents can afford it they should help out with everything until the kid(s) proves that they are not trustworthy to maintain normal progression toward completion of the degree. My parents helped me in undergrad, but not grad school, and I helped my kids in undergrad but not grad school.

And, NavyWife, I had no idea that the US Government’s GI Bill Benefits supplied any costs for college for the kids of servicemen and women; the stuff you learn on this blog!

Real Life

March 3rd, 2014
10:50 am

Interesting topic. Parents are under no obligation to finance a college education for their children. But they should if they can afford it. But the student should contribute as well. I put myself through undergrad and grad school—scholarships, loans, grants and the occasional box of goodies from my mother. (My father died in the late 60s and money was very tight when bringing up 4 kids.)
I also gave up going to the college of my dreams—I got a scholarship but not nearly enough to cover all the expenses. I chose a school I could better afford on my own and got an excellent education. Same at grad school.
I do not believe parents should finance an off campus apartment unless it is the same price or less than living on campus. That is a good life lesson for the student.
And I just read an interesting article (Wall Street Journal) how many students go part time to college and take out student loans to pay for things like apartments, cars, etc. And we wonder why so many are so far in debt.

TnT's Mom

March 3rd, 2014
11:12 am

I just looked up dorm fees and dining plans for my son’s school, Georgia Southern. One semester of the lowest price dorm is $2350. the dining plan is $1650. That is $4000 for one person for one semester. Since they are only really there for 4 months – Mid August thru Mid December that is almost $1000 per month!@!! Yikes! Off campus housing can be much cheaper. My son lives in a 4 bedroom house with 3 roommates and pays under $500 per month utilities included. And of course by preparing his own meals and even sharing meals with roommates, his food bill is not high. I do not know exactly what he spends as he is on his own!

So I would recommend that after freshman year students live off campus as it is cheaper. and they learn a whole new set of skills for time and budgeting and getting along with roommates!


March 3rd, 2014
11:27 am

I apologize for this but I have a question that’s off topic, and I’m wondering how it should have been handled or what others would have done. I recently flew from Atlanta to NYC for work, and will be making the same trip several more times over the coming months. We had no sooner boarded the flight when one toddler, seated in the row in front of me, started screaming incessantly. His parents simply plugged in headphones and ignored the screaming child (btw he screamed non-stop until we got off the flight in NYC).

In the row behind me was a mother travelling with her young daughter – maybe 6 or 7 years old. This child proceeded to kick my seat for the entire duration of the flight. Her mother also plugged in headphones and proceeded to ignore her child. I did get the mother’s attention and asked if she was aware that the child was kicking my seat, to which she replied that at least the child was quiet and I should be thankful for that.

I understand the nightmare it can be when travelling with children. But common courtesy for fellow passengers seems to have fallen by the wayside.


March 3rd, 2014
11:37 am

Thanks for posting TWG.

After HOPE, we paid about the same this year as we had been paying for private school (A lot!) But as TnT’s Mom pointed out, living off campus is actually much cheaper than on campus because of the meal plan so it actually works out better for us (dorm fee is I think $2150 and food is $1850). Part of our decision for next year is just that, do we continue to pay just as much as we did this year or do we agree that we’ll pay just for “room” and not “board”? We’re definitely leaning in that direction.

Now later on if he gets to the point where he needs to really focus and not work, we would consider helping more but as of now, only going to class and not working appears to leave him with too much time on his hands (he is not really involved in anything else on campus and only taking core classes right now).


March 3rd, 2014
12:29 pm

II think Techmom is doing everything right. Paying a part, but also excepting her son to contribute is the perfect scenario, IMO. I bet he will be a well-sought job candidate when it comes time for him to consider a full-tome career. I work with people on their resumes/covers/LinkedIn profiles, and I know for sure that a student with good grades and a good work record, will always be more desirable that those who did not hold a job. I do have a suggestion for Techmom: near the end of studies, I recommend that your son become involved in some community activities, such as like volunteering. On a recent grad resume, I like to add a blurb about community service, but the good thing is that this does not have to include a timeframe. As a result, even a 2-week project with Habitat for Humanity, Cancer Society, SPCA, or any other well-known organization will look great on his resume, and we don’t have to specify that he was only involved for a couple of weeks. One big thing I have noticing more and more is that a lot of kids don’t work during skills, so it s a little more difficult to present them as motivated candidates.

An HR person will often zillow a home address, and it can be detrimental for a student to list their parents’ home with a $800k price tag. I’m not saying that is fair, but it happens. As a result, it is always optional to have good grades, some volunteerism, some work experience, or at least 2 of the 3. Hope that helps!


March 3rd, 2014
12:33 pm

My kid is 9. I WEEP for what it will cost for her to get a degree.

just me

March 3rd, 2014
12:39 pm

I put myself thru college because my family couldn’t really contribute. I worked CONSTANTLY, often 2 or 3 PT jobs while being a FT student. It certainly built character and years later I was the only one of my friends that graduated on time and went straight into a FT job with benefits. I lived on my own and was treated by my family with the respect that you would give an adult person. I’m also paying of tens of thousands of dollars in loans but I know that experience has made me tough as nails and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Although I know the value of my experience, there were also days I came home too exhausted to eat and that’s only if there was actually food in my fridge. Many times I went from can’t see morning to can’t see night and just cried cause I needed some relief. So, with that said, my husband and I are going to be in a position to help our children with college. Not pay for it all, but still a good amount of help. We agree to provide up to the point it’ll start requiring real sacrifices on our part. We will not provide if it means taking away from our retirement savings or taking away from living some of our dreams like traveling the world or buying a modest vacation home. After all, its not like once they get their degree and a good paying job, they’ll all of a sudden start paying our bills. So we’ll give until it hurts. Well, more like sting. We’ll give until it stings and they can do the rest.


March 3rd, 2014
12:45 pm

@missnadine – good point. He’s always done community service as his high school required it but also as part of Scouts and church. We’ve really been trying to get him to get involved in something on campus but didn’t push it too much first semester as we wanted him to focus more on grades and just getting a handle on college. He has started to do a bit more on campus this semester and I keep hoping he’ll find an organization or club to become a part of.


March 3rd, 2014
12:56 pm

As an FYI – my parents did not contribute one penny toward my education, and I did end up dropping out of school in the 10th grade. I was a bit of a late bloomer in terms of being serious about a good career (a couple of minimum wage jobs opened my eyes pretty quickly). I got my GED at 24, and now hold a BS and an MBA.

I was raised by my mom (parents divorced when I was 12). Dad ended up very successful with mom eking out a living in lower-paying, traditionally female jobs (customer service, AVON, and so forth). She was my dad’s chemistry teacher in college but got pregnant so they married. This was in the 1950s so there weren’t as many opportunities for a “mom” to go back to school. My mom reminds of Theresa in that she does still appear to bitter over the choices she‘s made (even years later). My mom ended up doing okay in her 40s, and she ran successful but small high-end toy company, but all went away when Walmart came to town. She couldn’t compete with the low prices, and her client base, smaller toy stores and booksellers, all went out of business too. It was really sad.

So, even though I was raised in a medium-level to high income (depending on the stage of my life) my parents did not believe in helping with college expenses. Maybe it was because I didn’t go to college until I was 25 and out of the house, but who knows. They also did not contribute anything to my wedding, which took place at a courthouse. They are both tight as ticks with regard to money, but that has made me very self-sufficient and very frugal. I more or less followed Techmom’s manner, but I went one step further with my kids and said I would not for college is they didn’t intend to have a career, even if it was a non-paying career (like a volunteer lawyer). I also only agreed to pay if their majors where ones where there would be a good opportunity for employment, so no history or art majors (unless it was graphic arts). I have nothing against those degrees except that the likelihood of having a decent-paying job, or any job, was not good, and I didn’t want them to rely on me financially after graduation.


March 3rd, 2014
1:00 pm

@miss nadine…thanks for the reminder. My daughter had her HS graduation cord for 200 hours of volunteering but I am not sure she has much for college. I will pass this on to her. Love the $800,000 comment. That would not be us. Our son is set. He is well respected in his career and they are thrilled with him. Our daughter seems to be doing all the correct things. Is there anything else I ( she) needs to know. She worked at a sister property last week to pitch in and mentioned how much she enjoyed it. Her manager let her know who her boss was…haha and that she was not moving. When I am able to upgrade to 1st class, I here the same things you mentioned from those who interview students who have not worked through college. Connections are also important!

@just me…AMEN: “We will not provide if it means taking away from our retirement savings or taking away from living some of our dreams like traveling the world or buying a modest vacation home. After all, its not like once they get their degree and a good paying job, they’ll all of a sudden start paying our bills.”

@ Abby…I feel your pain and do not have an answer for you. I book myself into the exit row as kids are not allowed in it. Amen to your last paragraph too!


March 3rd, 2014
1:03 pm

@miss nadine…haha…I get this: tight as ticks with regard to money…

Loved your 12:56 post too!

Our kids do have peers with a degree and no job, as the field does not have a lot of potential. We have discussed this at length with both of them. Hopefully, we are on the home stretch.


March 3rd, 2014
1:04 pm

@WitchyWoman – agreed, in-state tuition doubled in the past 10 years or so, if the trend continues, you should expect it to double again :(

@JustMe – that’s sort of where we are; we got no help from our parents, both worked full-time and went to school and while it’s commendable that we both finished even considering our circumstances, it’s certainly not something I want our son to have to do. It’s a tough balance between wanting to give your kid(s) everything you didn’t have AND teach them to be responsible for their own education.


March 3rd, 2014
1:30 pm

…. also, make sure they put security around their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. Employers will always look there, and if there are rude comments, party pictures, 100s of selfies and other “risque” activities they run a huge risk of being passed over as this shows that they are not in tune with what is and isn’t acceptable in business behavior. My general rule of thumb: if you are not willing to print out your comments and pictures, send them to the potential employee along with a resume, and/or bring them to the interview, then make sure no one else has access.


March 3rd, 2014
1:44 pm

A related question that I need to face relatively soon: what is an appropriate amount of money to contribute to a college savings account like a 529?

Contributing to a kid’s college is a great thing (and I thank my parents all the time that they felt the same), but the most effective means of doing it is in an interest bearing account starting when they’re born, not when they turn 18. Considering the drawbacks of a 529, what’s an appropriate investment?


March 3rd, 2014
2:28 pm

iRun, from my kids’ experiences 4-17 years ago, as well as mine going back when I was 36 (22 years ago), the on campus jobs ARE minimum wage. Even lab jobs (my daughter had one). And anything not tied into the college is very competitive. In fact, ALL of them are! So look into that aspect of your plan.

My objection to living off campus, as was my parents’, was the frequent need for a car. Figure that in (gas, parking, insurance, car payment), and it might not be a bargain. I was allowed to take a car my last year of college, but before that I had to take the city bus, even to practicums every term all across the city!

Now, of course, you add safety to the mix. My kids lived on campus. It was convenient, relatively safe, and they had no responsibility for housing or cooking.

Some differ on this, I think. My perspective is, adulthood is forever. They will work their entire adult lives. If they were irresponsible, I would think they NEED a job. Or if they have had everything handed to them. Having a little part-time job is one thing but constantly working–not a good idea to me. This is based on my observations with typical hardworking kids, and on the literature, which suggests that working over 15 hours a week is detrimental and negatively associated with college completion. (This is an area associated with my dissertation.) So is working off-campus as opposed to on-campus.


March 3rd, 2014
2:43 pm

@catlady – sorry, I didn’t mean that the campus jobs wouldn’t be minimum wage. They are. I had one and so did my hubs.

What I really mean is there is little life value to be gained from working a “crappy” minimum wage job, such as at Pizza Hut (me, I did that). But our son could gain considerable experience for his future career working in a lab, even if it’s minimum wage. My husband is a professor and has a lab…there’s a good chance our son will start working in a lab in high school, helping Dad with his research. And then he can compete for a lab job in college.

And, while it might not be fair there’s a good chance our son will get that on-campus lab job…my hubs has connections through his research to GA State and GATech and UGA. It can’t hurt.


March 3rd, 2014
3:17 pm

@missnadine…thanks my daughter is squeeky clean. Hard for some of you to believe but true. She has not even had a auto ticket. She did get pulled over about 6 months ago and was a nervous wreck. She had left the Wal Mart parking lot and forgot to put her lights on. Just a warning. I laughed and told her that the officer was probably in shock when he ran her license….NOTHING…she is 21.

@catlady…my daughter worked 40 hours last week. I warned her not to try that again but they had a BIG project going on: “your goal is to finish these last two semesters”. I too worked off campus my entire time, as did my son. We both worked 25 hours or so. My daughter works 15 or so.
I have no research to back up anything in our family except that I finished, my son finished and my daughter is on track to finish.

missnadine…curious…if you had a 4.0 student with no job experience or a 3.0 student who worked all through college …which would you pick? My son was one of last to get into Pharmacy school, as many others had better GPAs. His class lost 20% before getting their Doctorate. Many started with a much better GPA. He worked his tail off and is now manager. Of course, I am proud of him.

It is kind of hard to find a college student in today’s world, without a car. We have 22 current or former students on our street. Every single one took a car to college. Some did not work at college. I am sure they are out there but I do not know any kids who made it through college without a car. Some UGA parents even bought their child A BRAND NEW CAR since they had the HOPE for college.


March 3rd, 2014
3:23 pm

@iRun…connections are always good. I was at a school today and missed one of their wonderful teachers. I was told she moved to Houston. WOW…I told them to have her get in touch with me as I can get her in touch with schools in Houston. NETWORKING is one skill that is never over rated IMHO. My daughter works in hospitality. During her BUSY week last week, she went to her events class. They took a trip to an event…where? The event she was working on. The teacher asked questions and other students had no idea. Eye opening for her as she is gaining practical experience.

I DID learn something while working at Wal Mart…I did NOT want to spend the rest of my life there. I wish my parents would have encouraged my to buy stock though…they did not. I encourage our son to take advantage of that option.


March 3rd, 2014
3:25 pm

@Catlady – our son has a vehicle already so it would be kind of hard to backtrack at this point and based on a meal plan that costs $1830 (I double checked) a semester, we’re still better off with him living off campus with a vehicle (the town he’s in has no public transportation either). I think as a sophomore he could opt for a lower meal plan but I don’t think giving up a vehicle is an option. He’s in college 3 hours away and though he often rides with friends home, there are times when he needs to get home and I can’t spend 6-7 hours trying to get him here.

Our son tried for 3 months to get a job on campus but had no luck (lots more students than jobs available, especially freshmen). He did end up with a minimum wage job off campus but certainly our hope is that once he figures out what he wants to do, he could find something in that field (undeclared major right now trying to decide exactly which route he’s going). I was lucky in that I had a connection to someone who worked for a company I was interested in while in HS. It helped me choose the specific job I was interested in before I had to declare a major but again, it was off campus and required me to have a vehicle (piece of junk that I paid for though!)

Atlanta Mom

March 3rd, 2014
4:13 pm

If your student is only doing core classes, and plans to get an engineering degree, without a doubt, this will be his easiest semester.
There are awards and scholarships out there after you start college. My daughter figured out, on a per hour basis, she made a lot more if she could snag an award or two, and she did. But she worked really hard and had the good grades to get the awards. Generally speaking, the longer you stay at Tech, the lower your GPA gets.


March 3rd, 2014
4:27 pm

Hi @motherjanegoose

That comment about Facebook was not directed to you. I know your kids are not the wild type. That statement was a part of another response that now states “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” I think that’s because I added thinks that I felt would be helpful. I hope Theresa approves it, but if not, I have removed the links here.
@techmom – it is generally not recommended to add faith-based volunteerism (not that I agree with this, but it is what it is). I say the same thing to my Muslim, Christian, and Jewish clients. Instead of the church name, I would write something similar to this:
Volunteer – Numerous Local Charities, Atlanta, GA Area 2010 – Present
• Actively participate in frequent volunteer for local charities such as Habitat for Humanity, Atlanta Food Bank, Atlanta Children’s Shelter, and Atlanta Day Shelter for Women and Children.
• Provide one-to-one mentoring, act as strong role model, improve self-esteem, and increase interest and participation in critical urban programs to help at-risk children facing adversity.
• Help young people bridge the gap between economic, education and workforce development and to develop skills to better prepare them for long-term success.
• Coordinate fundraising initiatives for food, clothing, and monetary donations, increasing funding, community outreach activities, and critical program planning initiatives.
• Organize fundraising events, improve public relations efforts, and act as advocate to at-risk populations, increasing awareness and participation in community-betterment initiatives.
Sorry about the earlier typos. Here I am calling myself a professional resume writer with several typos!
@ motherjanegoose: what specific information would you like? This is an area where I consider myself an expert (and the only area LOL). As an FYI to all parents, aoljobs dot com is a great site for recent articles/posts about interviewing, bargaining for first salary, what to say/don’t say, and more, including information targeted to the younger crowd. A student can also find volunteering AND paid positions through ww.idealist.org, which focuses on jobs that better the society. Lastly, my favorite general job search site is indeed dot com. Keep in mind that EVERYONE, even college students, need to sign up for LinkedIn which is free for the basic membership (no need to pay the extra costs here; I don’t even pay extra). A soon-to-be, or recently-minted student should have 5 or more recommendations on LinkedIn – no excuses. When we buy a car, select a restaurant, decide on a babysitter, don’t we hold others’ opinions in high regard? It is the same thing here: an employer wants to see that the candidate is very well thought of.


March 3rd, 2014
4:31 pm

@motherjanegoose: I got my first ticket at 48! years old!

“If you had a 4.0 student with no job experience or a 3.0 student who worked all through college …which would you pick?

Likely I would pick the 3.0 with work experience but of course that is not the only factor. I don’t make any hiring decisions. I just help people get to that all-important interview stage.


March 3rd, 2014
4:43 pm

@AtlantaMom – my son is not at GaTech (I’m a tech guru, not a GaTech Mom… chose that moniker many years ago before I realized it could be misleading). My son is at another in-state school and is definitely not planning on being an engineer.

@missnadine – good point about volunteerism. I guess I was just thinking that he did a lot of volunteer work between school, Scouts and church while in high school but unless he gets involved in something in college, he probably won’t do as much in the future. I’ll keep encouraging him though. Also, hadn’t thought much about him getting a LinkedIn account. Even if it stays unused for the most part while he’s in school, I’m sure it will be good to begin making those connections now.


March 3rd, 2014
5:52 pm

Parents should pay for the big expenses, like beer and marijuana.


March 3rd, 2014
6:29 pm

I honestly think it depends on the student. My parents told me that college WAS my job, and expected me to take a full load of classes and get good grades. I did my part, they did theirs, and I am so very grateful to them to have no debt because of their support. I worked part and full time jobs during breaks to save up money that I used to pay for movies and entertainment during the school year, and didn’t have a car. If your child is responsible and you have the financial resources to relieve them of decades of debt why not do that?


March 3rd, 2014
6:57 pm

@techmom – yes, your son would benefit from a LinkedIn account now. He can at least connect with your friends for example (working professionals), other students, and even professors. That truly is the #1 place where a recruiter will look for employees, and it is getting more integral every year. LinkedIn also provide s very in-depth job board, second only to indeed dot com (my opinion).

Those who are looking for a job, but don’t actively network on LinkedIn, are really missing an opportunity. For the older set, like me, NOT having a LinkedIn account just shows that the candidate is old fashioned and not tech savvy.

Done right, your son could be fielding numerous offers before he even graduates. Keep in mind that a great % of jobs are never posted, so the relationships we build through networking will present us with the best career opportunities.

It is who you know as much as what you know, and maybe even more so.


March 3rd, 2014
7:36 pm

I worked full time (40 hours per week at least) for my entire college career. AND I completed not one, not two, not three, but 4 *UNPAID* internships (including one of them out of state). It can be done! I worked double shifts on weekends. I never took a single spring break vacation or staycation because to me, spring break was just another opportunity to work double shifts. And if I mismanaged my money, I had to sit out a quarter of school. Such is life. I’m a better person for it.

Don’t know what your financial situation is like, but from my perspective, it would be much more helpful to have parental assistance on that first home loan rather than college expenses or paying for weddings etc. Getting a helping hand on a home loan can really set the tone of your life for years to come. We did not get help on our home loans, but I was close with friends who did and it really made a huge difference in the day to day quality of life.


March 3rd, 2014
7:37 pm

@miss nadine…LOL …I do not have a Linkedin account and admit I am not tech savvy. Not sure it has affected me but you know more about this than I do. I do use Facebook and have a web page, although my daughter handles any updates and that needs to be done again :).


March 3rd, 2014
7:38 pm

@beth…we are in the position for home loans with our two. Thanks for your input.


March 3rd, 2014
8:26 pm

@as others have said … the Montgomery GI Bill pays for a service-member for 120 credit hrs of tuition (roughly 8 semesters, or 4 years) after his commitment is complete. Those ‘hours’ can be transferred to a spouse or children. In our case, both my husband and I have college degrees, and my husband was encouraged to get his masters, which the Navy will pay for since he’s in a specialized field. So we can use the unused GI Bill benefits for our kids someday.


March 3rd, 2014
10:41 pm

Sorry – one last comment for those with kids about to graduate: while a LinkedIn profile is essential, try to get them to resist the urge to post their graduation picture (cap and gown) for their profile picture. It will make them seem less experienced. A nice, smiling professional look, against a plain background, is best. Don’t let them crop themselves out of group picture, or worse, post a selfie! A picture taken by a cell phone is fine, as long as they are not the one taking it. Please trust me on this – this is my whole career focus – to help people become promotable/employable.


March 3rd, 2014
10:47 pm

@motherjanegoose – in your case, not being active on LinkedIn has obviously not hurt your employment opportunities; you are always busy, but you are more of an exception, as you have spent decades building your “brand”. For a former SAHP (parent) reentering the workplace, a new student, or just anyone wanting to move ahead, it becomes very important, and also helps people connect with folks from their working past, or professors (depending on whether a student, SAHP, or other). Who knows though – you could actually acquire more business too if you were more “out there”, but I am guessing you don’t have a lot of free time to take on more work!


March 4th, 2014
2:13 pm

@missnadine…one more semester after this one. Thanks for the tips…I am passing them along to my daughter.