Friday, September 20, 2013

Who paid for your education? Footing the bill for college

When I was a teenager and wanted to get a job, my mother said no. She said my job was to be a good student. (And I was.)

When I got to college, I did get a job to pay for my extracurricular expenses. My mom and I agreed that she would pay for my loans while I was in college, but once I was out, the loans would be my responsibility. That worked out well: To avoid paying more in loans, I actually worked harder and graduated in less than four years.

But I know a lot of students who got a free ride from their parents, and others who had to work several jobs to pay for college themselves. Everyone values their education differently, and I suspect a big part of that value may be dependent on who footed the bill.

I think of all these things as my husband and I set up a 529 account for our son. I want to help him defray the (increasingly scary) costs of tuition, but I will also want him to take some responsibility for his education. I think we need to split the costs.

Splitting the costs may be a good solution for more than just our household, as a recent study indicates that parents are setting aside less money for their children's college educations. I guess I should start talking to him about this next year when he is old enough for getting an allowance.

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