We know how important your involvement is in your child's education - we also know how difficult it can be to stay on top of all of the important steps in planning and preparing for college.  

Below you'll find this month's content - LEARN (info to know), DO (action to take), and TIPS (insights for success)


The Bank of Mom and Dad: What are your Financial Responsibilities?

When the topic of college education comes up, two issues come to mind: “Where will my child attend?” and “How will I pay for it?”  It’s the latter question that is important to discuss here.

I’m not sure where in the parenting manual it states that you must pay for your child’s college education.  Truthfully, it doesn’t.  Many people feel this is part of their parental responsibility, but if it will jeopardize your financial well-being, I urge you to consider letting your child take responsibility for their educational costs, if not in full, at least in part.  Let me explain….

Taking some (or all) of the financial responsibility for a college education is good for a student because it encourages responsible choices and a higher dedication to learning.  The first responsible choice it encourages your student to make is what college he or she attends.  If they know they’ll have some responsibilities in the college costs, they are more likely to be interested in the financial options of each school.

The second is that he/she spends more time studying and more time learning and being involved, which will benefit them on the other end.  They take more ownership of their educational experience and have interest in making sure there is a high return on their investment.

If you do send a tuition check every year and give a personal allowance (or credit card) for your child to live off of, they may end up learning the wrong lessons in college.

By working to get good grades in high school and earning more scholarships, your student will help him/herself get the best education possible and learn respect for monetary decisions.  There is no better teacher in this world than responsibility.

I would be a hypocrite by not stating that my own parents financed my undergraduate education.  However, there were constraints on that money: GPA, holding down a part-time job, providing my own spending money, and not getting into any trouble.  If you want to help your student financially so that they do not start their life with loan debt, that is perfectly OK.  

But please heed this advice: Don’t dip into your retirement fund or set yourself up to become financially distressed to pay for their education.  They can take out loans for education.  You cannot take out loans for retirement.


Create an Initial Budget

The idea of college expenses can be difficult for many families to discuss.  The best way to really understand what these expenses could mean for you and your teenager is to create a budget for college.

This initial budget should include expected expenses for college costs (tuition, room & board, travel to and from college) and additional costs for living expenses and entertainment.  

You can also talk with your teenager about possible ways to offset those costs - any college savings, part time jobs in High School & College, scholarships, and possible financial grants from colleges.

Then the difference is the amount of potential loan that you or your teenager can anticipate.

Getting it out in the open can turn out to be a huge sigh of relief for the whole family.

TIP #1

Summer is a perfect time for learning!  This summer is a great time to take a class!  You know that the sophomore and junior years are often jam-packed with important classes.  It may be a great option to take one of those core or elective classes this summer.

Typically, classes meet for 6 weeks in the mornings – so there is still plenty of time for fun and vacations.  (Your high school or local community college may offer the class online as well!)

TIP #2

A summer job perhaps?  Many teenagers have their first real jobs around age 15.  This can be the perfect summer to look into a part time job that teaches responsibility, discipline, and can even make a little extra cash for college savings.


myOWNEDU for Schools!

We work with schools to bring college planning courses to students and offer free College Planning Presentations for parents.  Learn more by clicking here.