Should Parents Demand Their Children To Pay Them Back For College?

June 2, 2015  |  

You might want to be careful how you treat your folks. They just might hit you up for the money that helped to pay for your college education.

Forbes magazine reveals a growing trend where parents help finance their child’s higher education, so long as they get their money back. It looks like the days of saving for your child’s college because you want to help are over.

I’ve heard of a few parents asking for their money back after college, but it certainly wasn’t the norm. Most parents I knew (mine included) did what they could to help make sure their child earned a degree. While I took it upon myself to search for scholarships my junior year in high school, I can remember a period of time when my dad worked additional hours to bank money for tuition payments. Luckily 80 percent of my college was financed by grants and scholarships, but I can’t imagine my parents tapping me on the shoulder after I graduated looking for their money.

Now that I’m a mom, I want nothing but the best for my children. Yes they’ll need to work hard and establish independence, but that doesn’t mean my husband and I won’t come out of pocket when needed to make the road a little easier to navigate. When it comes to their college education, they too will have to search for scholarships and grants. We have 529 college savings plans in place that will help cover some — not all — of the costs. Sure it’s not a parenting “mandate” but something we want to do and think is right.

Everyone has their own stipulations when it comes to who gets their money and requirements for keeping up the arrangement. Some parents just aren’t willing to foot a college bill if their kid fails to get good grades, or messes up in another way.

That’s pretty understandable.

I have a little trouble understanding a parent’s reasoning for wanting their money back considering many today allow their children to move back home, and in some cases, still help pay their bills. Obviously these “allowances” have the potential for parents to come out of their own pockets. So what’s the difference? There are some people who believe providing financial assistance to a child in college is more acceptable than a grown adult who can work for themselves.

Maybe these parents are experiencing hard times of their own and can’t afford to help their child with college. If that’s the case, is it better for the student to apply for tuition assistance like a student loan? It’s certainly not uncommon to take one or a few out. The average amount of student loan debt is on the rise.

Parents who expect college contributions repaid should establish this sooner rather than later. The last thing anyone needs is to assume one thing and have something completely different occur. I can only imagine the impact that would have on future communication and the relationship between a parent and their child.

Money has a way of making situations very ugly. It’s important to be upfront and honest so it doesn’t get in the way.

Do you think it’s right for parents to ask for their money back?

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