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What are typical responsibilities or contributions from a parent for a college age child? My daughter, 19, is in college in another town. I want to know how much financial assistance is a good balance for a child of this age and stage.


Ellen Gibran-Hesse Replied: This is a very good question and the answer lies with what works best for the two of you. I am assuming that your child is a second year student at age 19. Have they ever worked? Did you agree to some system of support through college? Most teens should be working through high school. This helps them to develop a work ethic and a sense of money management. They should be responsible for some of their bills, whether it is car insurance, gas for their car, or cell phones and clothes. Many parents don't do this training however. It then becomes critical for college age students in preparation for the job market to pick up these life skills. I recommend to most parents that the summer after the second year that the student work or do an internship in their chosen field. This gives them both connections and a sense of what real work in the field is like. But if money is an issue, they need to work in some job even if not in their major and start managing bills. If the relationship isn't working for you in terms of financial support, then you need to sit down with your student and explain that you both need a new game plan that works for both of you. Maybe they can take less classes and get a part time job. At this age, it is no longer that you owe them. The relationship needs to begin to be between two adults. A discussion of what they can do and what you need in terms of their help is critical. Even if you have the means to be fully supporting them, it is important that either they work or that they work within a budget. Managing money is important. Give them a bill or two to pay. Be prepared that there will be late payments, late fees, the general mistakes that come from managing life and money. It isn't your job to manage their mistakes anymore. Let them have the responsibility. If they are doing well and can take on more, that is good. You want them handling most of their bills and life by they time they graduate and that comes fast! Good luck!
Posted On 2007-11-27 13:42:18
Rob Gilbert Replied: Tough question. One thing I know for sure - don't give a college student a credit card without a credit limit. There have been cases where students unknowingly accumulated $100,000 in debt by constantly treating their friends to pizza! In the end, it's better to be too safe and too cautious rather than too liberal and too sorry. They always teach teachers if you start off being stern you could always loosen up afterwards, but you can't go back to more discipline. A lesson that applies here as well.
Posted On 2007-10-11 12:55:35
Ashley Hammond Replied: There are no set rules about what a parent should contribute. It is all about personal choice. It would appear that this question relates to spending money versus the actual college fees. Fees are most definintely driven by the ability of a family to pay but typically parents try to help as much as possible. Spending money is slightly more difficult as it relates to values and family ethics. A rule of thumb for foreign students is that they can work up to 20 hours per week after the freshman year as any more is seen to impede thieir studies. At 19 years of age doing a small part time job and completing a full study load is perfectly acceptable. Once this issue is resolved a budget should be established with your child. Calculate her revenue versus expected spending. Review this and then you can make a judgement as to the amount of the short fall (if any) that you are prepared to make up. Give your child ownership of the budget and guide her. This will help her remain within the budget and set clear boundaries versus random requests for money. Be reasonable and accept that some discretionary funs will be needed. Beware of your child getting credit cards that you are unaware of. Better to help and advise than to bail. Good Luck
Posted On 2007-10-02 15:52:47
Gary Pritchard Replied: I am sure with every household the amount of assistance varies . Having two boys in college (22 & 20), I will give you my take on this…. We pay for all tuition, books, housing, and related school expenses. When they are not on the meal plan we give them a similar amount to buy food each month. As far as spending money, they are responsible for this from money earned during the Summer. Spending money includes outside entertainment food/ parties, dues in fraternity, concert tickets, gas money, and special trips. Having their own bank account and debit card and being responsible for budgeting their spending until the end of the school year has been a great learning experience for both and empowers them to make good decisions.
Posted On 2007-10-02 10:02:59
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