Why Kids Should Chip in for College

Student sitting under tree

When I was in high school, I worked as a waitress, slinging hot cakes and hash at my local IHOP. My plan: to drive off to college in a lightly-used red sports car.

Then my father presented me with my college tuition bill. He asked me to pay the first monthly installment: $1,600.

My sports-car dream was dashed, but I gained something more important that my parents wanted for me: the awareness a degree doesn’t just come with hitting the books—it costs serious cash.

Surprisingly, a growing number of parents agree: A recent survey from Legg Mason found that among affluent families, 72% believe that children should pay a portion of their college expenses. “Parents have decided to use the college experience as an opportunity to teach their children not just about overall responsibility, but also about fiscal responsibility,” says John Kenney, head of Legg Mason’s Global Asset Allocation Group.

It’s a good instinct: When kids contribute, they gain a sense of financial responsibility. As my dad said to me, “Now you’ll be less likely to slack off or flunk out.”

But with the unemployment rate among teens at close to 24% these days, is it realistic to expect students to find a job, let alone help pay their way in college?



Share the burden. Did you pay some or all of your college education?