Financing of Higher Education – How Are People Doing It?

This September, our eldest child will be heading off to University. It is an exciting time and also a very expensive one.

Over the course of this past year, we have been asking our friends and acquaintances about the financing of a higher education. Specifically, who is paying the bill? The parents or the child? Yes, there are students loans and scholarships, but who will be paying the debt of the loan? And for most students, scholarships are not attainable or do not cover the complete cost of 4 years of tuition, food and accommodation.

I thought I would share a number of the situations that were told to us and perhaps one of them will fit well with your family.

Just on our street alone, there are a number of different views with regards to paying for a child’s higher education:

* The parents are paying for everything. The child does not have to contribute toward the tuition, room and board, or social expenses. There are also no requirements set for graduation or grade point averages. A free ticket.

* The child pays for the tuition and the parents pay for everything else. Parents pay for room and board, meal plan, $200 a month spending money.

* A sliding scale. The parents pay 80% of all costs the first year, then 60% for the second year, then 40% for the third year and 20% for the fourth year. The philosophy behind this is that during the summer months the university student will be getting better paying jobs and can afford to pay more for their education.

* Child pays and parents reimburse for success. This is a pay-for-performance method. Their son must pay all expenses and at the end of the first term, he must show his passing grades to his parents. Once he has proven that he has passed all of his classes, then the parents will give pay him for his first term expenses (spending money excluded). Should he fail or drop a class, his parents will not pay for that class.

* The child/student pays for everything. This would require for the child to take out a student loan and to pay the complete debt themselves once they have graduated and are working.

Ideally, we would like our children to finish school without debt. As parents we have been saving to a “university account” since the children were small, but we won’t be paying for everything. So our kids must work to save money for university.

I hope this gives you some ideas to work with regarding your situation. Each family must try to figure out what is reasonable and affordable for those involved.