My husband and I won’t be paying for our daughter’s college education.
I hear all of you gasping in disbelief. What sort of parents are we to refuse to pay for our only child to attend college?
Here’s the deal. I was 39 when my daughter was born, which means I’ll be 61 when she graduates from college. According to CNN, the annual average cost of a four year state university is $11,354, and that includes room and board. Private colleges have an annual average cost of $27,516. That was in 2004. Who knows what it will cost in the fall of 2013 when our daughter graduates from high school?
We just can’t come up with that kind of money so close to retirement. That’s a time when you need to eliminate debt, not take on more. A 22 year old with a whole working future ahead of her will be in a much better position to pay off college debt than a couple living off of IRAs and pensions. We could even become a burden to her if our money runs out because we spent so much on her education.
The high cost of college makes it nearly impossible to save up enough to cover the entire cost, even if you start from the day your child is born, which we have done.
I realize it isn’t fair. I went to Beloit College, in Beloit, Wisconsin then transferred to Kent State University in Ohio. I had the opportunity to go off to a liberal arts college, take courses in Greek Mythology and 20th Century American Literature, and concentrate on finding myself.
Of course, my parents never paid for my education. I was injured in a car accident when I was seven years old and my father made some wise investments with the settlement money.
By the way, I was sitting in the front seat and not wearing a seat belt. (It was 1963 and people just didn’t use seat belts like they do now.) I suppose that’s a possible source of college funding, but I’m obviously not willing to have my daughter sit up front without a seat belt and wait for someone with insurance to cause an accident.
My daughter’s college experience will not be like mine. She won’t go off to a private college, unless she can manage to obtain a full scholarship. Most likely, she will attend a state university and live at home while she does it. She’ll also have to work part-time while she goes to school. She’ll scrounge around for grants and scholarships and she’ll take out student loans.
It is my hope that with the responsibility of paying for her education fully on her shoulders, she will choose a field that will give her the best chance of paying off her loans. I certainly don’t want her to go into debt to major in music or art history. Don’t get me wrong, music and art history are worthy pursuits, but there just aren’t a lot of employers out there with a burning need for musicians and art historians.
We want the best for our daughter, but in addition to learning to appreciate Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, we’d like her to develop the ability to manage money, to use her time wisely and to experience the pride of accomplishing her goals on her own, without a lot of help from Mom and Dad.