Do We Owe Our Kids an Education?

A great topic was suggested a few weeks ago: Do parents owe children an education?

So many parents today have the knee-jerk reaction: Of course, we owe our children everything we can possibly give them. But this question is worth pondering. Technically, we don't. U.S. laws require we send our children to school, public, private, parochial or otherwise, but that's not the same as owing them an education.

We give our children an education, whether we intend to or not, by the way we raise them and the type of family life we create. I want to give my children an education, because mine -- the education I got in school and from my family -- made such a difference in my life. But how much do I "owe" them? I'm not sure.

What do you think? What do you owe your children? What does everyone else? Are your guidelines religious, moral, legal, spiritual -- or all of the above?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  February 23, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
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We "owe" it to our kids to give them what they need in life to survive. This means teaching how to cross the street safely (i.e. not near a metrobus), read so they don't eat poisons, etc. It goes upto (and includes) higher education. Dump a kid into the world with a high school diploma and you have a fast food worker (or worse, a criminal). Send a "kids" out into the world with a BA or higher degree, and you have a person ready to make a difference.

Yes, yes. I know, there are self-made people out there. But it is way easier to succeed when not burdened with debt coming out of school.

So yes, it is my responsibility to educate my kids no matter how much they want or what it costs.

Posted by: Father of 2 | February 23, 2007 11:56 AM

My husband and I believe that we do owe our children a college education, but in no way does that mean it's going to be paid by us 100% unless we can do it without affecting our retirement. One of our primary reason for sending our kids to college might be viewed as selfish: we don't want them to be showing up on our doorstep every 6 months looking for a handout. My parents made it CRYSTAL clear that we were to plan to be in an apartment of our own or with friends no later than the September after we graduated. I think it was great. I think it's the way life is supposed to work.

I hear stories about parents who let -- who ENCOURAGE -- their children to return to living at home after college, and I shudder. Sorry, but that's not my plan.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 23, 2007 12:00 PM

We owe our kids what we believe we owe our kids. I believe that I owe my kids the most I can "comfortably" provide for them. For me and my family, I can comfortably afford private school, college and probably grad school while still saving for all that I need to save for (i.e., retirement). My parents paid my way through undergraduate and then when it was time for law school, they said they were out of money to spend on my education. They needed to put more money away for retirement. I respect them for that. They did not put themselves in the poor house so I could get what I wanted. Its all about balance -- in my opinion.

Posted by: Marie | February 23, 2007 12:04 PM

By virtue of bringing them into the world, parents do owe children certain things. After all, children don't ask to be born, and it wouldn't be fair to bring them into the world and not provide a minimum of necessities for them.

That raises the question, what is the minimum? Obviously, food, clothing, a safe environment, and perhaps affection are the absolute minimum parents owe their children. But an education isn't far off from the necessities. It may be higher on Maslow's hierarchy of needs than what is needed to merely subsist, but what type of life is mere subsistence?

An education is necessary to have any sort of fulfillment in life, and I would argue parents owe children an education. They don't owe them an Ivy League education and they shouldn't jeopardize their retirement savings to fund a private school or university. But parents at least need foster an interest in learning, impress the importance of a good education on their children, ensure their children get at least a high-school education, and encourage a post-secondary education. Footing the bill is, of course, a plus, but is not required.

Posted by: catmommy | February 23, 2007 12:06 PM

First!

Posted by: First Comment | February 23, 2007 12:07 PM

To the Father of 2 - The comment "dump a kid into the world with a high school diploma and you have a fast food worker (or worse, a criminal)" assumes -- or worst -- stigmatizes unnecessarily a whole group of people. By the same token, having a college degree, whether it is a BA, BS or higher, does not necessarily make the person more productive or even principled. Look at the case of the so-called "educated" executives who ran Enron and WorldCom.

Other than that -- yes...we do owe our children an education to make sure that they have the foundation to become productive citizens. Formal education (public/private schools, college) only provides only one segment of this education. The real education comes from passing along our (i.e., the caretaker's) solemn life experience, educational knowledge and values that our children will as productive and abiding citizens so that they can in turn make sound judgments.

Posted by: Not so fast | February 23, 2007 12:08 PM

While I don't think I "owe" my daughter a college education, with the price of college these days and the fact that she couldn't possibly do it herself unless she went to a community college or got a full scholarship, we will help as much as we can. Plus she is a bright kid, and it would be terrible if she didn't go to at least undergrad.

That said, we plan to do what my parents did. They paid for my undergrad, but for grad school I was on my own. So I went to work at the university so I could get free tuition.

As far as other things, we are trying to give her a moral compass for her to steer with. For the most part it seems to be working (with the exception last year of when she really lost it at Hebrew School). She has gotten some religious education, starting with going to a religious preschool. She has been a Girl Scout for 6 years now since kindergarten and I think that provides her with good values too. If you don't get the values in before middle school, it's too late and the kids (and society) will pay for it by the time they are teens.

Posted by: librarianmom | February 23, 2007 12:13 PM

Does this issue belong in "on balance" or "on parenting"?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 12:15 PM

After age 18, you don't owe your kids a thing. If you raise them correctly they can work to pay for it themselves. BTW, Father of 2 -- my parents never finished high school. They were the hardest working and most law abiding people I've ever known. A really annoying thing called World War II got in the way. They raised four kids, none of whom worked in a fast food place. Two have worked in law enforcement or corrections, and one is currently a court commissioner. A college degree does not guarantee success. Just look at the white collar criminals infesting Wall Street and Board rooms across the country. Get over yourself.

I left home at age 19, a year out of high school, with $100 in my purse to cover the first month's rent and all living expenses until I got a paycheck from Uncle Sam. Since then I've put myself through night school at a very expensive university. I lived in apartments until I was able to buy a condo, then a house, then the house I live in now, which has tripled in value since I bought it. For college graduation my parents gave me a plastic pin from Hallmark Cards that says "Super Grad." It set them back about 79 cents.

Since leaving home my parents have not given me a dime -- nothing for tuition, cars, houses, living expenses. How many of you spoiled Yuppies can say the same thing? Make 'em work for what they get.

Posted by: Babe in Total Control of Herself | February 23, 2007 12:17 PM

Re letting kids return home after college:
My parents let me live at home for a year after college before I went to law school. It was amazingly helpful because it allowed me to save enough money to buy a car. Without a car getting to and from law school would have been much harder and I never would have been able to pay rent and buy a car on my crummy legal assistant salary. Maybe this isn't what you were referring to, WorkingMomX, since in my situation everyone knew from the beginning that it was only for a year and then I would be moving out. But finding a job after college is so much harder than it used to be (especially with any kind of degree in the humanities). Putting pressure on children to move out by a certain date only forces them to take a job, any job, instead of giving them the time and flexibility to find one that they want. Obviously, the key is having everyone understand that this is a temporary situation. Also, I tried really hard to be considerate and helpful around the house, which made it a better time for everyone. Letting your kids return home after college does not mean that they will be there forever.

Posted by: Charlottesville | February 23, 2007 12:19 PM

great topic? but only 7 comments so far?
i don't know... i have never really thought of it in terms of owing it to my son to educate him, or anything else. but i guess you can define responsibility that way? as far as education goes, i think as a nation we constructed a system of education to ensure none of our children are, pardon me, left behind, and so we have public schools that children are required to attend unless otherwise provided for. but without that system, as some have already said, it is still the parents' responsibility to make sure their children are equipped to make their own ways in the world, whatever kind of "education" that means. whether it is required by law or not. so... i think this is kind of a moot topic maybe? on what do we owe our kids in general... are we asking what is a parent's responsibility? aren't we all pretty much in agreement on the larger answers to that question?

Posted by: Momof10moold | February 23, 2007 12:20 PM

Absolutely this belongs on Balance -- we are not balancing time (like usual topics) -- we are balancing priorities -- higher education v. retirement. Remember, a kid can borrow to go to school -- you cannot borrow to retire.

Posted by: Marie | February 23, 2007 12:20 PM

To Babe in Total Control of Herself:

" my parents never finished high school. They were the hardest working and most law abiding people I've ever known. A really annoying thing called World War II got in the way."

That was then. This is now. Lack of a post-high school education hampers your ability in TODAY'S world.

Posted by: Father of 2 | February 23, 2007 12:21 PM

A related, equally imoportant question: To what extent do I -- a childless adult -- owe YOUR children an education? Currently, 52 percent of my state and local taxes go towards education YOUR kids. Shouldn't my share be lower, say 33 percent? If not, WHY not?

Posted by: Mister Methane | February 23, 2007 12:22 PM

"great topic? but only 7 comments so far?"

Posting ability was down until around noon

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 12:22 PM

I left undergrad with about $14K in debt. This was a really good deal for the outstanding education I got; I was on my own for grad school, which seemed entirely fair. Dropping out of college is my mom's biggest regret and she was determined that my sister and I not be hamstrung by financial considerations when we were choosing our schools.

It's unlikely that I'll be able to give my putative kids the same free rein, but Husband and I certainly plan on funding their undergraduate degrees to the best of our ability. And if they wanted to move back home for a year afterwards in order to aggressively pay off any student debt,I can't see any problem with that. (If they want to move back home because they don't feel like paying rent, I do see a problem with that.)

Posted by: Lizzie | February 23, 2007 12:25 PM

Of course we owe our children an education. Yes, that includes college. I will fully pay for undergrad- at whatever school my child wants (or is the best fit) whether that be community college or Harvard. I will also help w/ grad school (maybe pay for rent while she handles tuition..something to that effect)
It's completely ridiculous to even consider making your child graduate with enormous debt. It's selfish and lazy, to be blunt.
Kids can only make so much money while attending school full time- have them pay their cell phone bill, going out money, etc but please, why would anyone let their kid saddle themselves with 100K in loans?
And what about actually having a college experience? If they have to work all of the time and constantly worry about money, they won't be able to be on student government or whatever else they want to be involved with.
That's unfair.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 12:25 PM

Hi Charlottesville -- Living at home for a strictly defined period of a year with the sole purpose of saving for higher education would probably be okay. It's the people who talk about "it's okay if they live with me until they're 40" who creep me out. I don't think they're doing their children any favors.

Can't remember which movie this was in, but I have an image of Robert Duvall saying something like "All of friends talk about how their children move away and they never see them anymore. Why can't we have that problem?" That's what I'm talking about!!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 23, 2007 12:26 PM

"Since leaving home my parents have not given me a dime -- nothing for tuition, cars, houses, living expenses. How many of you spoiled Yuppies can say the same thing? "

I left home younger than you with nothing. While I lived at home, I was charged board. I WALKED to college and work for 4 years and took the bus 1 1/2 hours one way commute + a pretty good hike to law school for 3 years.

My husband and I paid for our wedding and we paid off out house in 10 years with no family assistance.

I don't begrudge anyone who gets funding from their parents - that's the luck of the draw; same as DNA.

You really need to get over yourself.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 12:30 PM

"If they have to work all of the time and constantly worry about money, they won't be able to be on student government or whatever else they want to be involved with."

What a bunch of malarkey. It is this kind of entitled attitude that makes kids today feel they are owed a debt-free life with no strings attached doing whatever they want, whenever they want without regard for anyone else.

Working a part-time job to help pay for college will give them much more of an understanding of the way the world works than sitting on the student government.

Posted by: To 12:25 poster | February 23, 2007 12:30 PM

Wow anon at 12:25 -- unfair -- I agree, but not everyone can afford to do that -- so should they not have kids? Only rich people can have kids??? slippery slope I say

Posted by: Marie | February 23, 2007 12:31 PM

"Can't remember which movie this was in, but I have an image of Robert Duvall saying something like "All of friends talk about how their children move away and they never see them anymore. Why can't we have that problem?" That's what I'm talking about!!"

That's the spirit! Breed 'em, coddle 'em, and hope and pray that one day they'll leave you alone! That's what parenting is all about!

Posted by: wow | February 23, 2007 12:31 PM

To Wow, Looks like another snarky childless by choice poster. Are you as dense as you're making yourself out to be?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 12:34 PM

I think we owe our kids OPPORTUNITY, not RESULTS (sorry for the yelling).

We don't owe them a full belly, we owe them access to food.

Similarly, I owe my baby boy the diligence and understanding necessary to HELP HIM ACQUIRE an education. I can't open his head up and put the knowledge in there, and I don't owe him a blank check to go to any school he chooses, free and clear.

I work with lots of different people every day, and it is always clear to me which adults expect things handed to them or explained in mind-numbing detail or expect to have all risks and unknowns reduced to zero before they take any step in a process.

There's the other category of initiative takers who are responsible enough to realize success/failure is in their hands, and adaptable enough to make changes to increase the possibility of their own success. They are self-made.

I want to raise a self-made successful child, not someone who is used to having everything supplied, explained or understood before they make a move.

Posted by: Proud Papa | February 23, 2007 12:34 PM

"And what about actually having a college experience?"

Part of the college experience is learning to manage money, learning how much things "really" cost, and learning what is and is not necessary.

I would venture a guess that students who are at least somewhat accountable for their educations and/or living expenses 1) appreciate it more; 2) graduate with a better grasp of real life; and 3) end up being more fulfilled in the end.

Rich kids whose mommies and daddies foot the whole bill but run student government may graduate with a profound lack of perspective.

Posted by: catmommy | February 23, 2007 12:35 PM

You don't have to be rich to help your kids pay for college- it's called planning!

I am in no way rich, but I have priorities and I allocate my resources accordingly.

I don't think that only rich people should have kids, but you SHOULD be able to afford them! If you can't even begin to pay for your kids, then maybe you should stop at one or not have them at all. Yes, I believe that.
It doesn't take ONLY love to raise a child. That's called reality

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 12:37 PM

Not only to parents owe their children a college education, they owe it to AMERICA.

Parents are raising an illiterate, unthinking, unintellectual generation of TV watchers and obese fast food eaters who will fail to sustain themselves or our economy in the future.

Unless America raises a genration of scientists, mathmaticians, engineers, and thinkers our economy will be JUST LIKE THE LOSER SOVIET UNION'S.

IF YOU DON'T MAKE YOUR KID STUDY AND GO TO COLLEGE YOU ARE A BAD PARENT. PERIOD

Posted by: Long Beach, CA | February 23, 2007 12:38 PM

"I want to raise a self-made successful child, not someone who is used to having everything supplied, explained or understood before they make a move. "

And self-made is not a simple definition. Somebody who was kicked out at 18, worked 3 jobs to get a degree, and now is comfortable is self-made. Somebody who excelled in college and grad school (even if paid for by mom and pop) and is now successful is self-made.

But somebody who gets everything handed to them, has mommy and daddy bail them out of any situation, gets a cushy job because of who they know, etc is NOT self-made.

Just because you have financial help, doesn't mean you can't be self-made.

And Proud Papa, I'm quoting you but not attacking your post. Just using it to make my point.

Posted by: Father of 2 | February 23, 2007 12:38 PM

About "having a college experience" -- this is what I wanted so badly for my stepdaughter. An experience like mine, with friends, maybe a sorority, and good memories and activities and sports, etc. (I'm a very lucky person.) Probably the movie stereotype of a college experience.

It didn't happen, or should I say, it isn't, happening. She is one of those kids who ultimately will get where she needs to go, but she takes a different path. She took a year off because she wasn't serious enough about it (this after graduating 10th in her class). She worked three jobs that year because we refused to let her sit on her backside and watch MTV while we footed the bills. She now lives off campus and attends school full-time, paid 70% by us and 30% by her. We were willing to pay 100%, didn't want her to have a job while there, etc., but she needed things done differently.

It was a hard lesson for me to learn about changing your dearest expectations for your children, but I'm getting there.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 23, 2007 12:39 PM

As a society we owe children a basic education and an affordable higer education. My parents paid my first year of college, after that I paid for it myself and came out of school with less then $1500 debt. I expect my kids to be saving their money towards a college education while in high school and be willing to forego some video games, cell phones etc. I am also putting money away to pay in state tuition at a public college. Beyond that it will be their responsibility

Posted by: chet | February 23, 2007 12:39 PM

Anon at 12:37 -- ok -- fair point -- I agree, that I think more people need to plan better but I think for some its not that easy. I am glad that for me and presumably you, it is. We are very lucky (although I worked my a@@ off and struggled and did without for many years to get there).

Posted by: Marie | February 23, 2007 12:40 PM

I like WorkingMomX's comments very much, even though i disagree. The flip side to the "get them out of the house" mentality is the joint-family that is tradition in lots of Asian cultures. I lived at home with my parents after college and I had a $40K a year job(back in the 90's when that was a good starter in DC.) Now I am married with my own home and they'll come live with me when they are too old to care for themselves.
For the record i am a perfectly independent career minded person. But I am also family oriented, and I will certainly cover the cost of my children's education because they need that to be successful. Why does everything in America have to be about the individual? Why not about the family? I don't want a blue collar K mart life for my kids.
And before there is a mass chorus about elitism, let me say that my parents grew up in a village with no running water, and they did not get here by saying "There's nothing wrong with that." That attitude is total BS. There is nothing wrong with that if that's the best you can do, but if you can do better, you should. And that includes putting your kids through trade school or college if it is within your means to do so.

Posted by: Flip Side | February 23, 2007 12:40 PM

We owe our children the best that we can possibly give them within our means. We owe them a peaceful and loving family. We owe them an education that teaches them to be good people who can support themselves as adults. We owe them an upbringing which provides them with strong moral and values. Do we necessarily owe them a college or post-secondary education. I think that depends on each family and each child. We at least owe them the consideration of such an education. If we can afford to help them, we should, according to our particular means. If we can't afford to pay anything at all, we can still help them by being supportive, letting them live at home while they go to the local community college, helping them research scholarships and grants, and encouraging them in their efforts to get an education. If college is not their path, we should help them find an alternate path that will allow them to one day live an independent life that fulfills them.

I see it this way. We chose to have our children. They are our responsibility and our contribution to this world. And as such, it is incumbent upon us to do our very best for our children. It's really quite simple.


Posted by: Emily | February 23, 2007 12:40 PM

Catmommy said "I would venture a guess that students who are at least somewhat accountable for their educations and/or living expenses 1) appreciate it more; 2) graduate with a better grasp of real life; and 3) end up being more fulfilled in the end."

Nice generalization. I had college & living expenses paid for by mom and dad. I appreciated it completely - especially seeing my friends and coworkers who suffer trying to save for retirement, etc with loans outstanding. I have a complete grasp of real life and my education was very fulfilling. Best part, I was able to concentrate on my studies since I didn't have to worry about part-time jobs or how I was going to pay for things.

Posted by: Father of 2 | February 23, 2007 12:42 PM

I really don't see why people get so defensive on this issue.

I speak from experience of working full time while in school full time from 18-22 years of age that it was really hard and it was awful. I experienced none of the college things. Knock student govt all you want, but I actually would have LOVED to be involved in that and the newspaper (since journalism was my MAJOR)- I didn't want to join a sorority- I wanted to be involved in campus life! What's wrong with that? I actually DID miss out on a lot of life experiences by being stuck waitressing all the time.
Also, don't forget internships and the VERY real world expereince (and job offers) that extend from them. Would you deny paying for your kid's tuition for a year or a semester while they were interning full time that was unpaid (as Most internships are)? Is an internship an acceptable form of "life experience" for you anti-payers?
What will you do when your kids can't pay the bills becuase they have so much debt to pay off? Don't you think that's unfair?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 12:43 PM

Fo2 thanks much.

I do think that having undergrad and grad 100% paid for by mom and dad reduces an individual's drive to be self-made.

It's not impossible. My wife's parents paid for her undergrad and she had the guts to pay for law school herself when they assured her she would fail out and never make it.

But I think it's a lot easier to understand the realities of hard work when you don't have the 100% safety net of mom and dad to fall back on, even if it is just your realization/shame that you will have let them down if your grades are awful and they are splitting your tuition bill.

Posted by: Proud Papa | February 23, 2007 12:44 PM

I personally believe that what goes around comes around ... my mom let me move back in with her rent-free after I finished my undergraduate degree and started work. She's retiring in a few months, and my husband and I are going to move HER into OUR home so she doesn't have to worry about mortgage, etc as she gets older.

While the left-brain side of me understands the practicality of moving one's kids out of the house, we are talking about FAMILIES here ... I just think it would be nice if some parents treated their kids more like family members than like burdens that they are glad to be rid of when the kid turns 18.

Posted by: StudentMom | February 23, 2007 12:45 PM

Dear "not-so-fast" I am a self educated individual. I grew up on welfare, was abandoned by my teachers, and left alone to lose.

You are correct that the miimum of any decent parent is to instill a sense of self determiniation..

BUT LIFE IS DEFINITELY NEAR IMPOSSIBLE IN AMERICA WITHOUT A COLLEGE EDUCATION.

Frankly there aren't too many ghetto minded people like I was, who can do what I did... and I'm white.. imagine if I was black or latin and had to fight that prejudice, too.

A college education is MANDATORY for a successful life in 21st century America. You might make it as a street vendor in Tijuana Mexico without one, but not here.

Posted by: Auotdiadact | February 23, 2007 12:45 PM

Humans are curious and intelligent. Healthy children learn period. Educational institutions came into existence to provide some structure to what was learned and to share learning between families, societies and cultures. Who received the education has varied throughout history and cultures, usually based on gender, race and religion, ie. discrimination. Society doesn't owe education to the children. Society owes education to itself for its own advancement. Societies crumble, even advanced ones. Do parents owe it to their children? They owe their support but it shouldn't be handed over on a silver platter either. To value education is what is owed to the children. If the child doesn't value education and personal development they won't perform well even if ordered or enticed to go to school at any level. One of the signs of a crumbling society is the elevation of the Entertainment industry and it's performers to almost godlike worship, ie valued over all else including education.

Posted by: educatedmom | February 23, 2007 12:46 PM

You are so right Long Beach CA. This country is focused on justifiying mediocrity for self-serving reasons. Don't want to make anyone feel bad about not having an education by insisting their kids get one. Hoping your children educate themselves without your guidance and assistance is moronic. They will be ten paces behind the kids with parents that CARE.

Posted by: Amen | February 23, 2007 12:47 PM

We owe our kids the tools that they will need to survive and thrive in the world, as best as we are able to provide them. To me and my husband, that includes paying for at least a large part of college. We have realized how fortunate we are to have come out of college and grad school without much debt -- him because his parents paid for college and he got a fellowship to grad school, me because I got scholarships and worked, along with a little help from my mom. Yes, I had loans -- but my less than $10K in loans was in a whole different category from from my friend who financed Harvard Law to the tune of $150K in debt, and as a result couldn't follow his dream to be an FBI agent because he needed the big firm salary (and even with that, he still couldn't buy a house).

I want my kids to be able to do what they love and are called to do. If that means being a teacher or artist, and if they are otherwise willing to live on that salary, I don't want them to have to sacrifice that just to pay off six figures of debt. So, since we are financially able to save for college, I feel it is my obligation to do so.

That said, I also do not feel compelled to give them a free ride to the most expensive school around. My brothers always had everything provided to them, and they took it for granted, screwed around, dropped out, took 6-7 yrs to graduate, and basically had to hit 30 before they managed to grown up and learn a little responsibility -- the real world was quite a shock to them both. While loans can be a huge burden, the inability to function in the real world is a far worse one.

So my current plan is to be prepared to pay for the basics at a good state school. If they want to go somewhere else that is more expensive, they will need to work hard to get scholarships and consider some amount of loans. Maybe that means, if they want to teach preschool at $18,000/yr, they don't pay 2-3 times that amount to go to Harvard, even if I could afford it -- sounds tough, but that's the kind of financial tradeoff that they're going to need to learn to deal with in real life, so might as well learn that early on (as compared to my brother, who still hasn't learned to live within his means).

What's funny is that my mother, who had NO money, was absolutely 100% determined that I should go to the best school I got into without even considering the cost, even if it meant a second mortgage on the house (I still couldn't do it, though -- I picked the place with the best financial aid package). I agree with her that a great education is a must, but I am also aware of the downside risk of giving too much and demanding too little in return (an option that was never open to her). So I may change my mind as my kids get older and I have a better sense of their work ethics and sense of responsibility. But for now, I will provide the basics that they need to have a firm foundation in the world, but not all the extras they might like.

Posted by: Laura | February 23, 2007 12:48 PM

Proud Papa, but as said above (I think), just going to a school doesn't mean you get an education. You have to work at it.

I agree that getting an 'A' when you paid for the class probably feels "better" than getting an 'A' on mom/dad's dime but you still had to work for that 'A'. The profs don't know who's paying the bill.

Through high school, I knew what was expected of me in college and I worked my butt off since I knew what my parents were paying and I didn't want them wasting their money. Because it wasn't my money, I was able to relax during my non-studying time.

Posted by: Father of 2 | February 23, 2007 12:50 PM

Turning the question around a few degrees, is it in our best interests to provide an education for our kids? We lose spending money in the short term. What do we gain? The basement apartment back, perhaps. Peace of mind. And in lots of cases, grandkids. That is, young people with no school debt are more likely to have kids, and have them earlier. This seems to be very important to parents.

Posted by: WDC | February 23, 2007 12:51 PM

While the left-brain side of me understands the practicality of moving one's kids out of the house, we are talking about FAMILIES here ... I just think it would be nice if some parents treated their kids more like family members than like burdens that they are glad to be rid of when the kid turns 18.

Posted by: StudentMom | February 23, 2007 12:45 PM


Great point Student Mom. Everyday I marvel at the fact that people treat their kids as 2nd thoughts! Kids in daycare from day 1, parents working 80 hrs/week, complaining at the cost of the daycare that is raising their kids! It's unbelievable.
My mother in law said last year that she was "done parenting" "My job is done" is wha she said. That comment made me both angry and very sad. And that's the mentality of a lot of people on this board.
Why even have kids?
You don't want to stay home with them or, god forbid, cut your hours back at work! you don't want to pay good prices for nannies or preschool, you don't want to buy them a good college education...
Why be a family if you don't treat them like one?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 12:51 PM

You are not fooling anyone, CBC. I can easily tell that "Babe in Total Control of Herself" is just you in disguise. And there is no way you are any kind of babe.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 12:51 PM

I do resent somewhat the apparent assumption that having college paid for by parents = a lifetime of feeling entitled. I don't think it's a bad idea to make kids earn their own spending money and just pay for the basics - this makes them have to plan and budget and make occasional trade-offs but does not make them stress out about not having enough money to graduate. Also, paying for college does not mean paying for any college. My parents told me that if I went to a state school they would pay for all of it, but were honest that they could not afford to pay $40K a year to send me to a private school, so if I wanted to go to one I would have to find loans, etc. This really made me weigh the financial consequences of which college I chose. I went with the state school (less of a sacrifice in Virginia) and I never regreted it.

Posted by: Charlottesville | February 23, 2007 12:51 PM

My cousin was thrown out when he was 18, and quite honestly, his parents made it very clear to him throughout his life that they resented him (he was a sickly baby) and they told him for YEARS that he was going to be tossed out at 18. And they did it, too.

He was a nice kid, but let me tell you, knowing how little he was loved really did a number on him.

I was terribly upset when he died as a result of injuries in an accident (not his fault). On the one hand, I understand that his parents WERE saddened by his death, on the other hand I found it pretty galling how surprised they were that anyone found him a worthwhile human being; they openly resented the large turn-out at his funeral. It took them 3 years to get a headstone, and it wasn't until they saw his fiancee's web site that they even started to pursue it.

And yeah, they were definitely of the, "We don't owe you a thing and don't ask US for help of ANY kind once we get rid of you" variety of parent.

This really chaps my hide as they paid for his younger sister to go through college, in full; plus my grandparents provided them with child care, a business (family run) that provided a damned good income, and were very generous through the years to my aunt and uncle.

They owed him a tool kit, some encouragement, and yeah, some financial preparations would have been nice given that they had the dough.

I think we all should focus on the fact that having a stick up your @$$ is not the same thing as a spine. Spines flex, when called upon to do so. Individual circumstances vary, but it is prudent to put aside money for retirement (first and foremost) AND some coin for college, or something. Doesn't have to be much to be appreciated.

Posted by: MdMother | February 23, 2007 12:52 PM

FlipSide, there is a secret part of me that wishes my family were like that. Truly. But we are not. I don't know if it's cultural or just the way we are. It isn't that we don't care about each other very deeply -- we all spend most vacations together flying halfway 'cross country to see each other. We're together at all holidays and talk every day. But we are not the same as your family in that there's an expectation that we'll be living together. I think we would drive each other insane in a very short period of time. Maybe we're all inherently selfish people, I don't know. I feel pretty happy with myself and my family. But yours sounds wonderful as well.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 23, 2007 12:52 PM

This is a great topic! My hubby and I talk about stuff like this all the time. It's important to discuss these things way in advance.

And even though we don't have children yet (we're actually not sure if we can have any), if we do, we'll be helping them as best we can, but with the expectation that they carry some of the responsibility as well. We both did, and I think we appreciate it more in the long run.

Posted by: Chrissy | February 23, 2007 12:54 PM

I WANT my children to get an education, but I don't feel like I owe it to them. In fact, I had to pay for my own college education and it made me a stronger, better person. That said, I would not hold out on them just to teach them a lesson, but my husband and I do plan to make them work for some of their education and not hand it ALL to them. When you work for something, you appreciate it more.

In general, I think we hand our children too much. We need to teach them to be resonsible adults in a world where virtually NOTHING is handed to them. In essence, I view it as training our replacement, just like I had to do in my business.

Posted by: ParentPreneur | February 23, 2007 12:54 PM

I agree, we owe what is within our means. My husband and I subscribe to this philosophy: You can borrow for college but you can't borrow for retirement. We do all we can to provide a wonderful childhood for our children without sacrificing our retirement savings. They play sports and do some summer camps, but we can't afford piano lessions or the piano itself! We moved to a great public school district but they share a bedroom. I think we provide a nice life, but are not monetarily rich.

The worst thing I would want to do is be a burden to our children in our old age. We'll find a way for paying for college, it's just not happening now.

Posted by: average | February 23, 2007 12:54 PM

I think this blog needs to have a serious discussion about naming Britany Spears Mother of the Year after all, all of her problems as we all know were caused by that bastard of a husband, the courts saw that, thats the reason she was given custody of children, what a wonderful example of motherhood.

Posted by: mcewen | February 23, 2007 12:55 PM

"I grew up on welfare, was abandoned by my teachers, and left alone to lose."

Same here plus beatings, psycho homelife, etc.

Then I lived in voluntary poverty while I attended college & university for 8 years.

One of the best moments in my life was checking out college catalogs side by side with my teenage daughter. All of the pain of my life melted away when I told her she could attend the school of her choice. Money was not as issue. How sweet it is!!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 12:55 PM

Mr. Methane,

For your state to remain a competitive environment for employers, it needs to maintain a competitive workforce. To do this it needs to pay for education (k-12 and higher ed). There are states that pay a lot less in to educaiton from state taxes(see this website http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d05/tables/dt05_029.asp). You should note that these states do fairly poorly on a number of outcomes. I'm not suggesting that education is the only factor involved here, but I'm fairly comfortable saying that it is a significant contributer to the problems these states currently face. A couple of factors contribute to this dynamic. Educated and economically successful individuals and families (who tend to drive economies) will probably not want to move to areas with low educational spending/attainment. Also employers will not invest in areas without a skilled workforce.

Posted by: some guy | February 23, 2007 12:56 PM

"You don't want to stay home with them or, god forbid, cut your hours back at work! you don't want to pay good prices for nannies or preschool, you don't want to buy them a good college education"

Actually the reason many couples have both parents work is so that they can save for retirement & college. Remember back in the day when most moms stayed home, a lot less people went to college, there were more 'good' jobs that didn't require a college degree and the cost of college in relation to the median family income was less.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | February 23, 2007 12:56 PM

One of the best moments in my life was checking out college catalogs side by side with my teenage daughter. All of the pain of my life melted away when I told her she could attend the school of her choice. Money was not as issue. How sweet it is!!


Posted by: | February 23, 2007 12:55 PM

What a wonderful moment- I'm tearing up just thinking about how great you must have felt! Congrats!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 12:58 PM

In order for a group to create and maintain a society, all individuals within that group incur certain obligations. This theory, Social Contract theory, is probably the single-most important Western philosophical foundation with respect to the formation and governance of society.

For parents, one such obligation is to ensure the education of their children. By doing so, parents form an inter-generational social contract -- the young generation is assured that they will receive the skills necessary to thrive, and the adults providing these skills will be taken care of as they become elderly by this same generation of children.

The reality of the contract is that as members of society our obligation to provide education is not just limited to our children -- it is to all children within our society. It is in recognition of this that public education is supported.

Posted by: A Dad | February 23, 2007 12:58 PM

"To what extent do I -- a childless adult -- owe YOUR children an education? Currently, 52 percent of my state and local taxes go towards education YOUR kids. Shouldn't my share be lower, say 33 percent? If not, WHY not?"

Public education of everyone's children benefits everyone, even the childless. If you object to paying equally for other people's children to be educated to the basic level, I assume you will equally be reluctant to use the services those children provide when they are adults?

You are going to be pretty short on doctors and shopkeepers and contractors (and everything else) in your middle age and later life, if you are consistent in your thinking.

Posted by: Grimm | February 23, 2007 12:58 PM

Proud Papa: opportunity, not results-- Great way to put it. We need to give our kids tools, but which tools they keep in the toolbox long-term is up to them. And WorkingMomX, re giving up your dearest expectations for your children, that's a huge part of it too, IMO--we owe our kids high expectations, but we can't be too specific either. We need them to do well and be someone, but we don't always get to say what.

I'm divided on higher education. I have one, but it's only tangentially related to what I do. NONE, and I mean NONE of my friends "use" their educations as such. We're all successful by anyone's measure, but none of us stayed on the paths we first chose. Some were sent in certain directions by their parents and later realized they just weren't cut out for those roles. Others followed their noses, and eventually learned the difference between a job and a calling. Myself, I have one love and I've done a number of different things related to that love.

My parents are quite happy with my career choice. They're less than happy with my brother (training to be a millwright) because they envisioned academic success for all of us. My brother is just not that person. He has failed his way through a whole bunch of schooling--but now that he's in a program he enjoys, he is excelling, and my parents are starting to come around. Better a happy and talented millwright than a miserable and mediocre lawyer (or whatever).

I've also seen way too many people sleep through their higher education, exit with a very average grade and no particular passion, and then wonder why no one is rushing to offer them a great job. There are no "great" jobs in a field you only entered because Mommy and Daddy paid for you to do so. You need to be excited by what you do. That's what our parents owe us: that message.

If you find what you love, you'll find a way to get there whether the parents can afford to help financially or not.

Posted by: worker bee | February 23, 2007 1:00 PM

Years ago, when my middle brother was in college, I remember his complaining about his schedule and how busy he was because he had to work a few hours on the weekends. My parents paid his tuition, books and board at school, but did not give him extra spending money. That was his responsibily. So he worked at a deli on weekends. That particular week apparently had been pretty hard with a slew of tests and papers, and he was complaining that between school and work, he did not have time to relax. My mother was sympathetic, but did not offer to do anything to remedy the situation. After my brother left, she told me that it was good for him to struggle a little. That it builds character, as long as the struggle is not so difficult that it cannot be overcome. In the end, my brother was fine. He graduated with good grades, got a job, and is a perfectly self-sufficient and confident person. I think my parents handled our upbringing just right. They never turned us away, but they never met all of our needs either. This helped all of us learn gradually how to fend for ourselves.

Posted by: Emily | February 23, 2007 1:01 PM

Long Beach said "IF YOU DON'T MAKE YOUR KID STUDY AND GO TO COLLEGE YOU ARE A BAD PARENT. PERIOD".
The making kids study part I agree with (at least to the best of their ability) but calling someone a bad parent is, at the very least, unfair and ridiculous. Some children don't want to go to college or are not suited for it. Should their parents waste thousands of dollars just so you don't think they are a bad parent?

Nobody in my family had completely parental subsidized post high school schooling. We all worked part time and during the summer for books and spending money. Some of us paid for it all ourselves. Everybody lived at home and drove an older car.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 1:04 PM

I think that parents owe their children the tools that will allow those children to succeed in college. The parents have to be involved in the younger years. I've seen kindergarteners who can't recognize numbers 11-25, but know every Pokemon character. That is disgraceful.

Going to community college is not something to dread. It's something to be grateful for. Here we have this wonderful opportunity for people to go to college at a very reasonable price. Class sizes are small, professors are there to teach (not do research), and the professors' educations are the same as at 4-year schools (Ph.D.). Plus now in Virginia, there are several state universities that have guaranteed transfer plans for students who earn their associate's degrees from a Virginia community college.

The community college is truly the "pathway to the bachelor's degree."

Posted by: NOVA prof | February 23, 2007 1:06 PM

I graduated two years ago, so I think I stand as a pretty good example of recent college experience. I went to a 4-year public university that is located in southwest Virginia (I bet you can all guess), and I was an out-of-state student. My parents could not afford college, but they at least made sure that I was determined enough to get through college anyway. It was tough. I worked 40+ hours a week and took 20-23 credit hours a semester. Oh, and by the way, I did not miss out on internships either. I also still graduated summa cum laude in four years with two bachelor's degrees, and was offered jobs at every single one of the places I applied to (about 10), and every single place told me that the things that set me apart were (1) my full-time job/school at the same time and (2) that I was paying for school on my own.

My husband's single mother also could not afford his education, and so he waited. He got a job in state government, and 3 years later has a job that is highly coveted by those who graduate with a 4-year degree. He took that time to learn about what he wanted to do, and now he is going to college part time so that he has the beloved "piece of paper".

On the other hand, a friend of mine from No.VA had her parents pay for college. She graduated with one bachelor's degree in five years, no honors but a decent GPA, applied to over 40 jobs and got none. She works at the same company I work for because I got her the job. Now, her parents are also footing the bill for her apartment (because she spends all her money on eating out and clothes), her $25,000 wedding, and a down payment on her house. (Meanwhile, her mom is in grave debt because of her education.) If you think you won't be that parent, her mom said the same thing freshman year. Obviously, this is only one example, but I could tell you hundreds like this.

I'm not bragging. College was tough for me, but I did not "miss out" (except maybe on the excessive partying, woo hoo). I have debt, which I am paying off. I learned time management, respect for everyone (regardless of job or education), and to appreciate the little things. I'm not a saint, but I will say that, maturity-wise, people tell me I'm an "old soul." I will thank my parents for that.

Posted by: WorkingHardIsGood | February 23, 2007 1:06 PM

WorkingMomX: Ah, but it is not easy for me either! My mother is a very opinionated woman! And my MIL is a very messy person. =) I won't even mention the headaches generated by my SIL.
Here is the thing: If the family breaks into fours or twos or ones, we will all be worse off, and we know it. And while we may irritate each other, we get over it the way two siblings sharing a room might. And i learn to let somethings go. And they will probably tell you that they do to (although sometime i think not enough, but that's another story!) Bottom line: we are stronger, better, happier, more secure, and more cared for together than we would if we had more superficially happy but distant relationships.
But you are right: one person alone doesn't change a family, the whole family has to be group minded to begin with. And that's hard when society doesn't back you up. My colleagues treat me like a hero because my in-laws stay with us six months at a time! But my indian friends say: oh, they don't stay with you all the time??!!
Perspective, huh?

Posted by: Flip Side | February 23, 2007 1:08 PM

I don't have any children right now, but my husband and I have talked about what sort of an education we will provide for them. Even though I lived at home while in undergrad and law school, most of my expenses were paid by me, including clothes, food, transportation, tuition, books. To make ends meet I worked and I took out loans (about $125K). My husband during his early twenties did return home during financially difficult times. With our experiences, we feel that we should pay the most that we can without creating a sense of entitlement. We want them to be productive members of society and not have them come back home as young adults, and a degree is helpful towards that goal. If it is sensible that our child stay home to go to school, we will not kick them out. But having missed that aspect of education, I will want them to go away for school.
And I will have to agree with WDC about the impact student debt has on having children. Due to my large student loans, we are not having children any time soon.

Posted by: Aida | February 23, 2007 1:09 PM

At a minimum, parents should try to treat their children with some sort of equality. DH's parents did nothing to help him with college. He had to go to class and wonder how to pay his rent. He had to take time off more than once to work full time.

Imagine our surprise, when his parents paid for his two younger siblings to attend college. They paid tuition, room and board, and even gave them spending money. To top it off, my husband is far smarter than either of his two siblings, who are extraordinarily "ordinary." Now, hubby faces going back to college to finish his degree years later, while his younger siblings are going for free, switching majors every other semester, and trying to "find themselves."

My parents and I had a fine arrangement -- I pulled my weight with scholarships and a part-time job, which did not interfere with working for the paper, being in a sorority, and joining several clubs. Meanwhile, my parents helped me pick up the slack with living expenses. I learned the value of money and didn't graduate in debt. I am just sick that my husband's parents could not work out a similar situation with him and are now spoiling the younger brats rotten.

Posted by: catmommy | February 23, 2007 1:09 PM

Watch out everyone - less than two hours into it and mcewen is already beating his tired drum!

Posted by: DC lurker | February 23, 2007 1:09 PM

Someone wrote "I expect my kids to be saving their money towards a college education while in high school and be willing to forego some video games, cell phones etc."

The money they would save by forgoing video games and cell phones will not make a dent when one year of undergrad at Stanford costs $45,000.

Posted by: EH | February 23, 2007 1:10 PM

"Through high school, I knew what was expected of me in college and I worked my butt off since"

I'm confused. How does one "work their butt off" in school?

I sat on my can, read a lot of books, memorized a zillion things and wrote a lot of papers, but I wasn't "working".

Miners, ditch diggers and some other folk "work"; students do something else.

The main reason I went to school was so I could have a career that didn't involve "work", but called for brain power.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 1:11 PM

I've already got a college fund going for my 3 year old -- I contribute to it monthly. I don't think I "owe" education to her as much as I want her to feel that she has choices (like Laura, I also had a friend who could not take his dream job because it didn't pay enough to cover his loans) and opportunities to find and follow her passion. I do want her to be able to take that unpaid internship if it is truly what she wants and I don't want her to have to punch a clock when she could be participating in sports or student government. Lord knows, there'll be plenty of time to do that in her life.... so, I'll do what I can to ensure that she can go the college of her choice (unless, of course, it is Duke).

Posted by: tar heel gal | February 23, 2007 1:11 PM

"The money they would save by forgoing video games and cell phones will not make a dent when one year of undergrad at Stanford costs $45,000."

One year or one semester??? I'm thinking one semester. Those prices (for a year) are about 15 years old.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 1:11 PM

I was raised in an alcoholic family and my dad beat me everyday. I left the house when I was 17 years old with nothing but the clothes on my back. Then I worked my way through an Ivy League college working 2 night shift jobs and not a dime of government funding or help from anyone.

Now I own a huge house and an expensive sportscar and get all the movie channels on cable. I wouldn't even think about having any kids until I've saved up for their entire college tuition. I call it responsible parenting and if you can't follow my standards, you are a loser, should never have any kids, and don't deserve the time of day.

Posted by: I'm the greatest one on this blog | February 23, 2007 1:11 PM

LOL, Flipside! I have a friend whose husband is Syrian and his parents used to come for an unspecified amount of time (usually ended up being 5-10 months). The stories she'd treat me to at work! Apparently a good daughter-in-law is supposed to clean the bathroom directly before the mother-in-law uses it. This was a constant struggle for my American girl-next-door friend.

I love hearing stories about other families. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 23, 2007 1:12 PM

I am curious, also, as to how people's own experience affects their desires for their kids. Touching story from anon at 12:55 regarding being able to give your kids what you did not have.
My parents were kind & supportive but poor, so I put myself through school, which was hard, but good for me. I remember scoffing a bit at the people who had it easier--I felt they just weren't learning as much. Some weren't serious students because it wasn't their own money at stake; others were very serious students but still weren't under much life pressure, which was (to me) the biggest learning experience--having to not only study, but pay the rent, find compatible jobs, etc. This gave me a bit of a chip and for many years I declared everyone should have to pay their own way.

I've mellowed more now--I think it's a lovely gift to give your kids IF it's what they really want & need. (I still think it's dumb to force them to go, if they're not self-motivated yet.) I'm curious to hear from those whose parents paid their way though.

Posted by: worker bee | February 23, 2007 1:13 PM

Both my husband I and worked our way through college.. I will help my daughter because I can, but there is no way she is going to be one of these kids who parties and leads the life of leisure on my dime.

I will pay her car insurance, health insurance, part of her tuition, etc. However, she will get a job to pay the rest and for spending money and she will work a full time job during the summer.

As far as the "everyone needs a college education" spiel. That's great to say but there will always be someone who can't go to college for a variety of reasons. There needs to be jobs that these people can do, like food service, factory work, or other types of service work. Unfortunately, many of the jobs that these people do are being shipped overseas because of greedy corporations. I know lots of people who are blue collar who are not criminals; they just don't have what it takes to go to college and be doctors, lawyers, etc or even the desire to do it.

Posted by: scarry | February 23, 2007 1:14 PM

"There needs to be jobs that these people can do, like food service, factory work, or other types of service work. Unfortunately, many of the jobs that these people do are being shipped overseas because of greedy corporations."

Yup, McD's is shipping his food service jobs overseas. Flipping burgers in India but serving them in D.C. Also, kind of hard to dig a ditch in VA from Mexico.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 1:16 PM

>Apparently a good daughter-in-law is >supposed to clean the bathroom directly >before the mother-in-law uses it. This >was a constant struggle for my American >girl-next-door friend

Oh my god! that's insane! now that i could not tolerate. Yes, extended family only works when there is mutal respect!!

Posted by: Flip Side | February 23, 2007 1:16 PM

90% of my friends worked in college. I don't understand what you are "missing out" on just because you have a job. The group that I associated with was Greek, in the student government, and primarily Pre-Med and Engineering students. I didn't work 40 hours/week (usually 20+, though) and didn't feel abnormal at all. In today's competitive job market, students who exhibit good time management skills, such as those who are employed during college, are seen as an asset.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 1:18 PM

At least it's better than having to clean the bathroom after the MIL uses it.

Posted by: Grimm | February 23, 2007 1:19 PM

"90% of my friends worked in college. I don't understand what you are "missing out" on just because you have a job"

I think there is a difference between working in college for spending cash, etc. and working to pay the entire bill. One is a good balance (in my opinion) the other causes hardship and reduces college "life" (again, in my opinion)

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 1:19 PM

I have an off-subject question. If the mods want to delete this, it's ok.

But I am curious about how long it took people here to concieve? My hubby says that we have plenty of time because we're young (we're both 24). But it's been a while, and nothing. Please share if you feel comfortable!

Posted by: Chrissy | February 23, 2007 1:20 PM

Parents owe their children an inspiraion to learn, a burning desire to do something they like and the rest be damned. Or they should present such a repelling example of their small boring life that a rebellion naturally follows. I left home at 16 after high school, got myself a Masters and PhD and never looked back. Never took a dime from them. Never waitressed or cleaned. Got paid for my art, writing, and running a project on stochastic processes modeling as an undergrad. From the time I was in high school and forever on I was incredibly lucky to meet the inspiring adults: in school, in the community, in the big world -- I was exchanging letters with former President at age 14!-- but luck is the function of the character. Regular people would always warn me that I'm just learning, the real life is different, wait till you are out of high school, out of college, out of grad school...

Ok, I'm out. 10 years in a "real world", and doing pretty well. And what are they saying now? Oh, Mary Jane, you are just different...

People always said "The times have changed, you can't do now what used to be possible during the World War II/ Great Depression/Industrial Revolution." Now they are saying that to my 8 y.o. Guess what? It just ain't true.

Posted by: Mary Jane | February 23, 2007 1:20 PM

EducatedMom: "Society doesn't owe education to the children. Society owes education to itself for its own advancement." What an insightful way to reframe the discussion. This gives everyone in the society a role to play -- parents, families, childless tax payers, and children themselves. Specifically to the role of parents, what they "owe" (not so much to the children but to the society) is the mediation of resources (time, money, values) to their children with the purpose of equipping children to advance the society. The specific judgement calls (about time, money, vaules) will of course be different in every case. Big job! Thanks for your post.

Posted by: SocialMom | February 23, 2007 1:21 PM

My parents paid for the college education of my two older siblings and myself. This included veterinary school for my brother; they would have paid for my graduate degree as well, but I got a teaching-assistantship to cover that, so they helped me with my living expenses (within reason).

My parents never hesitated about paying for our education - that was simply a given. But in return, we were expected to actually achieve. As my parents put it to us, the tuition, room, board, books, fees that they paid (in addition to a modest monthly allowance) were equivalent to our salary.

See, going to school was our job for the next four years, and they were our employers. I always thought it was a fair trade, especially once I got to school and had friends taking full-time jobs on top of their classes to help make ends meet. I wasn't exactly a money-bags, but I bought a lot of pizza and beer for my friends because I could. I figured it was the least I could do, considering I was lucky enough to have the luxury to choose a part-time job instead of needing it.

My sister didn't live up to her end of the bargain (more partying than class attendance), so my parents stopped paying for her education after her sophomore year. She never went back, and has since regretted it, realizing that a BS/BA is nearly equivalent to a HS degree these days (at least for the stuff she now wants to do).

Posted by: Chasmosaur | February 23, 2007 1:21 PM

I am AMAZED how many people feel they "owe" their kids a college education! I don't have kids yet, but I have parents, and they definitely did not believe, nor ever allowed me to believe, that they "owed" me anything after I turned 18. They helped me out in college, for which I am enormously grateful to them. I still had scholarships, I worked, and yes, I had loans and I still have debt. But I make all my payments and still manage to live on my own and have the sort of lifestyle I want. I think you "owe" your children the best you can give them until they're 18, at which time they should be mature enough to take responsibility for their own lives, and if you choose to help them beyond that, they should appreciate that you are able and generous enough to do so. God, I absolutely HATE the sense of entitlement in kids nowdays. Nobody, not even the people who love you the most, OWE it to you to support you through grad school. Take some responsibility for your own education.

Posted by: ChristinaE | February 23, 2007 1:22 PM

I noticed that Harvard is getting thrown around as an example of an unaffordable school. Just wanted to point out that Harvard - as well as many other big-name schools - provides *need-based* financial aid. So, if your kid gets into Harvard, you *will* be able to pay for it without sacrificing your house, retirement, or other children. In fact, if your income is below a certain threshhold, you will get a full scholarship. And, just to clarify, part of the aid may come in the form of loans that the student will have to pay off after graduation, so don't view it as entirely a free ride for the student.

Posted by: Don't let the name scare you | February 23, 2007 1:22 PM

Chrissy, the doctors say don't worry until you have been trying for a year. Easy for them to say! I would suggest that you talk to a doctor about your cycle, counting days, taking your temperature and other easy ways to chart your fertility.

Posted by: experienced mom | February 23, 2007 1:23 PM

experienced mom:

A year? Wow! We stopped using birth control when we moved in together at 20. I've been to my doctor and everything checked out normal. I have a very regular cycle, to a near ridiculous point. (So much that one month I was off by one day and thought I might be pregnant. I was so excited, I went out and bought a test, took it, and it was negative. I got my period an hour later.)

It's not frustrating me yet, but I do want this to happen soon.

Posted by: Chrissy | February 23, 2007 1:30 PM

There is no natural law that says parents (or anyone else for that matter) will provide anything (much less an education) for their children once they are born.

Children are: an investment for your personal care in your old age, a means of perpetuating your genotype, someone to play God to, an accident, a personal obligation, etc.

For me, my children are one of my means of showing the universe that I'm better than anyone else. In order to prove this statement, I need to make my children as successful as possible. Providing an environment that stimulates mental, physical and moral development is essential. An educational system does a large part of that.

For general society, children are the means by which that society perpetuates itself. It is in the interests of that society to instill a beleif and behavior system that supports the existance of that society. Resources need to be invested to do so. It is NOT necessary to have a formal educational system to do so, although such a system should make use of those resources more efficient.

American society has been able to exist on an average educational level between 3rd and 9th grade on the average. So realistically, there isn't any reason for our society to invest more resources than is necessary to get children past the 9th grade.

However, higher education does open a larger window of opportunity for people to succeed. Those partents and groups that wish to gain a survival advantage should invest resources in obtaining a higher education for the physical and mental skills that their children will need. People in the top 10% of the socio-economic scale almost invariably spend enormous amounts of money to send their children to college for undergraduate and graduate degrees; and thereby perpetuate their families in that upper income bracket. Very, very, very few people on the low end of the scale ever send their children to college, and so never move up the scale.

Posted by: Don't Owe Children a Thing | February 23, 2007 1:31 PM

To
I'm the greatest one on this blog

Your story sounds bogus. If you were so poor, you would have qualifed for financial assistance from the government and/or at least the Ivy League School you attended.

Think about the difference between who paid for Bill and who paid for Hillary to attend Ivy League schools.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 1:32 PM

I don't think that parent's owe their kids a college education, but I think it is fair to expect that children are informed of their parent's intent. My parents started saving for college when I was born. I knew this from a very early age. I also knew that I would have to attend a state school in the state where we were residents in order for my entire tuition to be paid. I had other friends whose parents didn't pay any of their college expenses. They expected this before hand and realized the steps they would have to take to pay their own way.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 1:35 PM

For what it's worth, my parents felt that they owed it to us to instill a sense of self-reliance, but then to also support the steps we took toward that self-reliance. For example, the deal in our house was that once you graduated from college (which I paid for myself), you got one year to live at home, rent-free, while you found a job, saved some money, got a car, etc. After that year, you either moved out, or paid a modest rent to the parents. In high school, I got a night/weekend job at a movie theater, and they made sure I always had a ride to and from work. (the theater closed at 11:30 PM, so the bus wasn't a great option at that point)

Posted by: Tiffany | February 23, 2007 1:36 PM

The price of being an adult, much less a parent, is setting an example to those who would follow. If we are so inclined as to be irresponsible, we have only ourselves to blame for the poor development of the next generation and thus should not tsk nor absolve ourselves when everything of value in how people treat one another with the honor, dignity, and respect deserved to be given from one person to another flies out the window. If you want to contribute to the further decline of society by shirking your basic human responsibilities that make you human, then that is your right. However, I submit to you that even the lowest of animals impart to their youth some semblance of proper behavior. What, if anything, should grant freedom from this responsibility to us? As the most advanced species, cats might argue otherwise, we are the custodians of this planet, and thus responsible for proper maintenance of everything. This can not be done without continued education and impartation of morals- something that continues to disappear despite marvelous technological advances. At risk sounding trite: With great power comes great responsibility. Lately I have witnessed more impartation of the former, and less of the latter. Do you have the right to neglect education in all its forms? Certainly! But should you? I think not. You should agree, if only for purely selfish reasons. A more educated, in all senses of the word to include development of a sense of duty, self-respect, and honor, individual will be more likely to watch over you in your old age and perpetuate a humane cycle of birth, growth, and death. If you fail to instill values in the next generation, those things humanity has strived to achieve for thousands of years, such as equal and honorable treatment of all- as evidenced by the golden rule and the rule of law, will eventually be lost. People seem to have only taken the financial spin to this article into consideration, but failing scholarships, college is expensive. Any assistance you can provide would be of great help to your child, and could in turn be of great help to society, but only if you raised an educated and well adjusted child. Success should not be measured in wealth of money, but wealth of experience and wealth of integrity. As someone pointed out earlier, a college degree does not necessarily make one successful, especially if they are corrupt. They may make a lot of money, but as human beings they would be dismal failures and contributing to the downfall of society. Rather your children be educated to do the right thing no matter what, and then worry about college than place so much emphasis on potential financial gain from college. True success will more likely come to those who live a right life, and it can be measured by how others can see their integrity.

Posted by: Chris | February 23, 2007 1:38 PM

No, we don't owe our kids an education but why wouldn't you want to give your children every advantage possible? I was raised by a single mother (abandoned by her husband when pregnant with me) and I put myself through college. Sometimes things happen where parents can't pay for college and I understand that. However, I wouldn't even consider planning to have children without the intent to pay, at the least, a large portion of their college education. This is why I have put off having kids and will have to limit my family size. I really don't understand the logic of people who claim it isn't their responsibility, the kids will get more out of it if they pay for it themselves, or who claim I am a stay at home mom which is more important than saving for a college education (btw, I am planning at staying home for quite a while, but not at the expense of college funds). These people appear to be just lazy and pathetic. Will their kid get more out of life starting off burdened with a huge amount of debt or more out of life working 3 jobs and going to class fulltime - like I did - while their friends are off immersing themselves in their studies, parties, cultural opportunities, concerts, their friends, developing relationships?

Posted by: AllisonNY | February 23, 2007 1:42 PM

This topic is very close to me right now. I am a graduate student working as a nanny. My parents have never paid for my education. I always went to public schools and they always told me and my siblings that our education is our responsibility. My parents are middle-class, not rich so I understand they can't afford four Harvard educations. I went to a state school for my undergraduate education and had an academic scholarship from the state. Since I wasn't burdened with too much debt I am now at AU which is costing an arm and a leg. I realize this isn't everyone's choice. My uncle pays all the bills for his children as they are going through school and it is costing him. It is a matter of what you are trying to instill in your children. As an undergrad I worked full time in a nursing home and paid rent. I worked with some students whose parents made them quit work because of one bad grade and those parents already were paying for everything! I am tired of spoiled brats in my classes who complain that daddy bought them the blue mercedes, not the red one and so that means he doesn't love her. I thank my parents for not indulging me like that and making me take responsibility for myself.

Posted by: Florida Girl | February 23, 2007 1:43 PM

Yup, McD's is shipping his food service jobs overseas. Flipping burgers in India but serving them in D.C. Also, kind of hard to dig a ditch in VA from Mexico.

Sorry that is not what I meant. I meant that a lot of factory jobs, and other service jobs like telemarketers, customer service etc. I think you knew what I meant and just wanted to be snarky.

Posted by: scarry | February 23, 2007 1:43 PM

"Yup, McD's is shipping his food service jobs overseas."

Actually, I read an article that McDonalds will soon start outsourcing its drive-through order-taking. Supposedly, orders will be taken off-site through telecommunication technology, and not by the person handing you your food and making change at the window. The person taking your order won't even be on the premises.

Posted by: catmommy | February 23, 2007 1:49 PM

AlisonNY, you sound VERY young. And quite naive.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 1:51 PM

Chrissy, if you want to get pregnant:
1. Cut your sexual activity from 5 times a week (as do typical 24 year olds), down to once or twice. It's the big one that'll get you there.

2. Have hubby switch to boxers and make sure he hangs loose around the house. A bedroom fan could also be useful to help keep those bad boys cool at night.

3. You and your hubby should babysit a kid for the day, like going to the zoo, park and museum.

Once you got the right juices flowing and the emotional chemistry cooking... BANG!

Posted by: Fertile Murdle | February 23, 2007 1:53 PM

Chrissy, I highly, highly recommend "Taking Charge of Your Fertility". My husband and I read it together and were pregnant in three months. It'll teach you more about your body than you ever realized you should know!

Posted by: Anon This Post | February 23, 2007 1:58 PM

"I am tired of spoiled brats in my classes who complain that daddy bought them the blue mercedes, not the red one and so that means he doesn't love her. I thank my parents for not indulging me like that and making me take responsibility for myself."

Oh PLEASE, florida girl. These types of people are very few and far between. I went to private schools all my life and have only met ONE person like that. This is such a stereotype.
And yes I worked during college to pay for food, utilities, spending money, etc. The rest was paid for by a 70% scholarship/grant combo and the rest by my parents. I only graduated 5 years ago, so I am not out of the loop like some in their 40s on this board who have NO CLUE what it's like now. Just because you paid for it 20 years ago does not mean it is doable now- because it isn't in most cases.

My husband's parents didn't help him at all, so he up and joined the military. He gave over his entire life for 6 years, went to school for his BA and now his MBA- all paid for by the military. Thankfully he didn't die in the mean time- but one shouldn't have to join the military or accumulate large amounts of debt to get a BA!

I now have a little girl and we have been saving since I was about 6 months pregnant. THe message this sends to your kids: Education is IMPORTANT. It is a top priority in this house. We have picked saving for your education over buying a house. We have chosen to save for your education over having new cars.How does that message breed laziness and "entitlement". I think it actually does the opposite- that she better not take education lightly and work hard. We have sacrificed a lot to save for this- it's not to be partied away.
The entitlement issue comes in when kids get EVERYTHING- $300 pairs of jeans, new cars, etc.
Your kids aren't going to be spoiled brats becuase you paid for college. They'll be spoild brats if they always get what they want in the material sense.
It seems that college is the wrong time to teach these lessons. A child doesn't become "entitled" overnight- there's a lifetime of spoiling going on there.
Paying for college won't change their personalities or their morals.
Such stereotypical responses.
What about tha parents who work hard to save and cut out other spending to save for college? Not the parents making 7 figures and buying their kids whatever they want.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 23, 2007 1:59 PM

Good parents want the best for their kids. So I have no idea why someone who would choose to have kids wouldn't provide them with everything they could within reason. I understand not getting a kid a brand new car for sweet 16 - but 4 years of instate tuition - come on, if you are a parent you should want to do this and you should have been saving for the last 18 years to do so. What is the problem?

As for this comment, "A college education is MANDATORY for a successful life in 21st century "
I don't necessarily agree. I have quite a few friends without 4 year degrees with decent salaries and I would consider them successful. I also have quite a few college educated friends that I would not consider successful. Although a college degree isn't mandatory for success it sure helps a whole lot and any decent parent should be willing to help out. Unfortunately there are quite a few selfish parents that harbor jealousy towards their kids and wouldn't like it so much if their 25 year old made more money then they did at 55, traveled to places the parent never dreamed of going, or just had an all-around more interesting and fulfilling life than they ever did.

Posted by: AllisonNY | February 23, 2007 2:02 PM

I conceived the first time I didn't use birth control. It was actually sooner than I wanted. I just believed the story that it would take a while after stopping contraception.

Posted by: to chrissy | February 23, 2007 2:02 PM


I think those who imagine making kids pay for higher education will magically make them more responsible and better students are deluding themselves. Because college is in and itself work --- and when the unpaid work of learning and studying comes second priority to paid work, the whole point of the college education is undermined.

As a professor I've had several students in this situation, flailing with near full-time work on top of full-time study at an expensive and demanding private university. I'm sorry for them, but aside from explaining that their priorities are failing them, what can I do? They're tired and confused, they can't get their homework done on time, or they turn in hastily scrabbled work which is hardly their best and which they failed to work deliberately through, and learn from. They can't find time to master new material before it comes up on exams; they just don't have the time resources necessary to succeed in what needs to be a serious commitment. They are sacrificing tremendously and working very hard, but it's misdirected and self-defeating. Why are they driving themselves into the ground to attend a great university, then wasting that hard-fought opportunity by not devoting any time to it? by accumulating a poor transcript, because they can't focus during this short window of opportunity, on their courses? that checkered transcript will damn many of the dreams they are working toward, forever . . . (many hope to be pre-law, pre-vet, pre-med, pre-pharmacy; they need to show *achievement* in college, not just paid bills, and they need to actually learn the foundational material of their disciplines. This is a full-time commitment.)

I personally think any level of part-time work beyond 15 hours weekly during the semester begins to compromise the whole point of being at college in the first place. The student's achievement, not to mention their experience of what should be a wide-open exploration of possibilities and ideas and peers, degrades.

Some students try to self-fund while going part-time for many years, but that too is a very risky proposition. I have seen so many people basically swimming backwards in that attempt, losing credit toward a degree as their studies drag on and life, moving apace, gets in the way. Work/family commitments make them transfer institutions, or institutions change, and they end up loosing applicable credit toward a degree faster than they gain it. Every course also forces them to relearn material they've now forgotten. It's a way of compounding the effort needed to attain a degree, many-fold. Many such students just fall by the wayside.

Sure, I've also seen students who screw up by putting no effort toward their classes. The point isn't really whose money they're wasting; it's why are they in college in the first place? While some skirt by minimally for a full 4 years, and actually graduate - with a degree and a lousy transcript - most crash and burn quickly. A better strategy with them is to exclude them from college until they truly want to go, until they're committed to not squandering the opportunity, until they can show achievement in a college environment.

Most scholarship funds require a B average for continued eligibility. Most scholarship recipients are far more concerned about doing their best, and don't need that impetus of sustained eligibility to goad them . . . but that's a much more reasonable goad than 'if you pay for it, then you'll appreciate it.' Students do pay for it already, in opportunity cost: it's their one chance at college, to be fully exploited or to be squandered or mismanaged, and I'd say 85 percent of my students, they know it.

Posted by: KB | February 23, 2007 2:04 PM

Quite frankly, I expect my daughter's school to be paid for by her hard work in high school to win merit-based scholarships.

Posted by: Another point of view | February 23, 2007 2:05 PM

"I now have a little girl and we have been saving since I was about 6 months pregnant. THe message this sends to your kids: Education is IMPORTANT. It is a top priority in this house. We have picked saving for your education over buying a house. We have chosen to save for your education over having new cars.How does that message breed laziness and "entitlement". I think it actually does the opposite- that she better not take education lightly and work hard. We have sacrificed a lot to save for this- it's not to be partied away.
The entitlement issue comes in when kids get EVERYTHING- $300 pairs of jeans, new cars, etc."

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 23, 2007 01:59 PM

Amen!!! That sums it up for me as well.
Great alternative message to send to kids and to parents.

Posted by: to SAHM | February 23, 2007 2:05 PM

I have to agree with Mr. Methane. Assuming you both have kids (and if I'm wrong, my apologies), nobody asked you to have them. And when you did decide to have kids, I feel quite certain it wasn't because you wanted to benefit society at large. If you want all the joys of having children, then you should also be willing to take all the responsibilities, especially financial.

Posted by: To "Some Guy" & "Grimm" | February 23, 2007 2:07 PM

As many jobs that used to require only a high school diploma now require a college degree (despite no change in the skills required), I am beginning to believe that either we as a society (not individual parents) owe our kids an education, or we as a society need to overhaul the way we treat education.

Postsecondary education has become an expectation on the part of employers, many of whom seem to think they are entitled to highly educated workers. Unfortunately, education is not treated as an entitlement for those workers. They have to pay for that education, and it is becoming increasingly expensive. If we are going to expect that people acquire college degrees, we must be prepared to help them pay for them, either in the form of heavily subsidized education, or through salaries that make repaying those loans truly possible. Otherwise, college education becomes the right and privilege once again of those who can afford it. What will happen to those who can't?

Posted by: k269 | February 23, 2007 2:07 PM

While I don't feel that I "owe" any of my three children a free college education, my husband and I will help them to the best of our ability because we love them and want to help them be as successful in life as possible.

The "parents must pay for college because it is so unfair for kids to graduate saddled with debt" argument, however, irks me. The media has documented that college tuition has risen much faster than the rate of inflation over the last decade or so. In the 20 years since I graduated from college, tuition at my alma mater went from $4500/year to $26,000/year. While public universities are more affordable, the cost of obtaining a 4-year undergraduate degree can still cost $75K or more. That is a significant amount of money to expect parents to be able to save, especially those with multiple children. While it's unfortunate to see young people graduating from college deeply in debt, isn't it equally as unfair to demand that parents put themselves in the poor house and exhaust funds they may need for retirement?

In a perfect world we would figure out how to keep college costs low and expand availability of low interest loans to all students. Until that day comes, my children will simply have to be satisfied with whatever my husband and I can manage to save for their college expenses without shortchanging our necessary living expenses and retirement accounts.

Posted by: MP | February 23, 2007 2:07 PM

We have sacrificed a lot to save for this- it's not to be partied away.

Are you going to college with her to ensure this doesn't happen?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 2:10 PM

The question is not do we owe our own children an education, but do we owe everyone else's child the same level of education? Like so many things in the USA today, the politics require that an earned middle class standard become the norm. So the middle class is taxed to the point where they cannot affort what is given away. Do the schools teach the fable of "Henny Penny" anymore?

Posted by: jackinjersey | February 23, 2007 2:13 PM

I am not sure that owing your children anything is the right idea. Owing them an education or a swwet sixteen party implies that it is an obligation. For most people (at least those that aree posting here) having children was something that you chose to do, not something that you were obligated to do. Therefore, you get to choose what you think they will need to enter society as a an individual who can add to society. Not all children are meant to go to college. Not everyone will become a nurse, doctor or history teacher. There is still a need for skilled laborers, farmers and someone to manage the local gas station. Lack of a formal post high school education doesn't mean they become a drug addict or prostitute. As far as our children are concerned, we have been telling them since middle school that we have provided them with the best education that we could afford to give them. In return, we expect that they will do their best in school and will challenge themselves as much as possible. With four children a total of six years apart, we knew from the very beginning that we wouldn't be able to pay their full ride through college. So we have told them that with the foundation that we have provided, we will help, but that it will require them to find the additional resources they need through work, loans and scholarships. Part of educating your children is teaching them to find ways to do it for themselves. If they want it, they will find a way.

Posted by: mother of four | February 23, 2007 2:13 PM

and when the unpaid work of learning and studying comes second priority to paid work, the whole point of the college education is undermined.


KB- what a great way to put it! I have a BA and MA and still take classes (I try for 1 or 2/year in the past 2 years) JUST BECAUSE. Because I really enjoy being in a collegiate atmosphere and learning new things. The best students in class are the senior citizens who are retired and go back to school because they never had the chance or just because they want to be more involved in the world today ( i usually take philosophy/poli sci/intnl relations classes)

The love of just learning- what a better lesson to teach than this sink or swim mentality!

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 23, 2007 2:14 PM

What about people who can't or don't provide an education for their children? According to Social Contract theories, should they be penalized? Their kids certainly are punished for their parents' failure to help them become educated.

Posted by: Leslie | February 23, 2007 2:15 PM

to Fertile Murdle:

Thanks. We pretty much do all of that. I don't think when we first started dating we were even doing that 5 times a week--and that was at 18! We're on target with all that you mentioned, including the boxers. And our bedroom is very cool, too.

To anon:

Thanks for the recommendation! I will check that out, definitely!

To "to Chrissy":

We've been off bc for nearly 5 years now. When we moved in together, we knew it would probably take a while--like maybe 2 years. And other than that one time I mentioned, (my own wishful thinking more than anything) I've never been late or anything.

Posted by: Chrissy | February 23, 2007 2:17 PM

"That is a significant amount of money to expect parents to be able to save, especially those with multiple children. While it's unfortunate to see young people graduating from college deeply in debt, isn't it equally as unfair to demand that parents put themselves in the poor house and exhaust funds they may need for retirement?"


Um, no- it's not unfair! Then why are you having so many kids??? It's incredibly unfortunate to have kids from state schools with 75K in debt!! You would let your kids have that kind of debt? Why not limit your family size to what you can actually afford?? THAT'S IRRESPONSIBLE.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 2:17 PM

What about people who can't or don't provide an education for their children? According to Social Contract theories, should they be penalized? Their kids certainly are punished for their parents' failure to help them become educated.

Nope, there was no way my parents could have paid for my college. If you really want to go, there is a way for you to get there that doesn't involve your parent's money. I worked, went part time, took out loans, etc. If you want to do it you can.

Posted by: scarry | February 23, 2007 2:18 PM

My parents paid for undergraduate degrees for both my sister and me, but we knew from early on that any graduate school would be our responsibility. We worked for our own spending money both during the school year and over the summers. My parents weren't rich by any stretch of the imagination - both public school teachers - but they felt it was their duty as parents to provide for college. They took out a number of educational loans to pay the tuition. When I offered to take over the payments on the loans (after I graduated from law school) they refused, saying that it was their responsibilty as parents. I'd like to do the same for my kids.

Someone made this point much earlier, but I think it bears repeating - there's a huge difference in having a child work to contribute to the cost of higher education - money for books, spending money, travel fare to get home, etc. - and making him or her pay for tuition. With the price of tuition now (and in the future), I think that would inhibit a student's ability to get the most out of the college experience, both socially and educationally. However, I fully support having them contribute in some way through part-time work.

In addition, a lot of people who paid for their own school seem to think that all kids whose parents pay their way are spoiled brats withour an appreciation for money. It doesn't necessarily follow - I think having spoiled, bratty kids says more about parenting skills that it does about income.

Posted by: DC Dad | February 23, 2007 2:21 PM

It seems like the same things are being said over and over again now.

I have something an off topic question:
Does anyone have a recommendation for a book explaining theology of the Episcopal church?

My husband and I have been attending one, somewhat regularly, for about 2 years but I'm not terribly fariliar with it's history, structure, etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 2:29 PM

Try the Book of Common Prayer.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 2:33 PM

"Does anyone have a recommendation for a book explaining theology of the Episcopal church?"

I can't help you with the current theology, but Anne Somerset and David Starkey both wrote biographies of Elizabeth I that cover the founding of the Church of England in great detail. Starkey in particular is very good at explaining how Henry VIII's last wife, Catherine Parr, created a center of religious study at Court and how she used the emerging Protestant theology to relate more effectively with the King. I myself am Catholic, but I found these details very helpful in understanding the original theological underpinnings of the Church of England.

Posted by: Lizzie | February 23, 2007 2:33 PM

To Another point of view:
My parents gave me a choice when I was 14 or so: they said I could either start working in summers & after school (they offered to help me get to and from my job, etc), or I could take summers off, study really hard, and get a scholarship. Either way, they expected me to go to university, and pay for it myself.
I said I'd like my summers free, thanks, and I'd get a scholarship.

Worked exactly as planned--four years later I was on a full scholarship to the school I chose.

Why did it work? Partly because they made it my choice. They didn't nag me about my subject choices or school choice, and while they were very supportive of my extracurricular activities, they let me choose those completely too. Their expectations were high, but left me lots of leeway in making their vision my own.

So, I think you're taking the right tack with your daughter! Best of luck, hope you & she both enjoy the process & she ends up in a school she will love.

Posted by: worker bee | February 23, 2007 2:34 PM

"AlisonNY, you sound VERY young. And quite naive."
I am 30 and have already started college funds for baby x and baby y even though I don't plan on trying to conceive for another year.

DC Dad, your parents sound like wonderful people and you sound equally reasonable. Parents should want to do what is best for their kids - providing them with every opportunity to succeed but also having them take on some responsibility on their own.

Posted by: AllisonNY | February 23, 2007 2:35 PM

The love of just learning- what a better lesson to teach than this sink or swim mentality!

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 23, 2007 02:14 PM

Well said - that's one of the most enduring gifts you can give your kids!

Posted by: moxiemom | February 23, 2007 2:37 PM

2:29, if your church offers a confirmation class, it is quite informative. you don't have to be confirmed at the end of the class if that's not your goal. There were several people in our confirmation class that were there for the interaction -- like any other adult sunday school class -- and not for the certificate of attendance, so to speak.

I recommend reading one or two of C.S. Lewis' books if you're interested.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 23, 2007 2:37 PM

This seems a very silly question to me, that could only be written by a fairly well-to-do person. Parents owe it to their children to feed, clothe, and house them, until they reach legal adulthood at 21, and I think parents are obligated to do their utmost at this. College is a luxury, in my humble opinion. A parent may strive and sacrifice and yet be able to do no more than keep their kid at subsistence level: are we to condemn them for this? Don't be ridiculous.

My parents sacrificed a lot to allow me to attend the (expensive) college of my choice, but I had to work through it and graduated with student loans. What more should I have expected from them: blood? If I thought they "owed" it to me rather than being grateful (and sort of awed) for what they went through to provide opportunities for me, then I would have to call myself a jerk.

Posted by: m | February 23, 2007 2:37 PM

Um, no- it's not unfair! Then why are you having so many kids??? It's incredibly unfortunate to have kids from state schools with 75K in debt!! You would let your kids have that kind of debt? Why not limit your family size to what you can actually afford?? THAT'S IRRESPONSIBLE.

If most people limited themselved to what you can actually afford, most people would have ZERO!

Posted by: the original anon | February 23, 2007 2:37 PM

I want my daughter and any future children to have every advantage in life. I also want to do as much for them as my own parents did for me. My parents paid for my and my 3 siblings college tuition in its entirety. My husband's parents paid for his undergraduate and medical school tuition as well. It would be selfish for us not to do the same thing for our own children. If we couldn't afford it that would be different, so we can, and we will. And I am glad that I can postpone the burdens and worries that my children will have to face when they eventually join the working world. But I will always pay for their plane tickets home to visit us!

Posted by: Emily | February 23, 2007 2:38 PM

Those of you who have argued in the past that somehow, as an adult woman, I owe it to the world to have a child, then I say this: You who have children owe it to them and to SOCIETY, to educate them properly to then become independent adults. This attitude of "send them on their way when they are 18" is hilarious because it often comes from the same people who tell me that somehow I am wrong for choosing not to have a child and assure the earth's human population will continue (or so that my child can become the next Ghandi or Mother Theresa or Abe Lincoln and save the world). So if I have this miracle child, then I certainly must owe that child the best education money can buy, right?

Posted by: Daisy | February 23, 2007 2:38 PM

legal adulthood at 21

I thought the legal age was 18?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 2:39 PM

I went to law school with people who were stilly on mummy and daddy's payroll! I think that's pushing it, at least for full support -- tuition, room and board, spending money, car, insurance, etc. I know several people who get some help from the 'rents, but the ones who are fully dependent worry me. How good will they be professionally if they aren't used to managing their own affairs?

Posted by: lawgirl | February 23, 2007 2:39 PM

I agree wholeheartedly with Long Beach, CA .. We do owe our children an education, because we owe it to our country as well. Of course we need to raise responsible, honest children with some sort of work ethic, not spoiled brats. If our children are not educated and hard working, where will our country be down the road?

Posted by: 4shoes | February 23, 2007 2:39 PM

Thanks to all that responded to my Episcopal Theology question.

Anon 2:33...I am familiar with the Book of Common Prayer; I'm just looking for something a little more expounding.

NCLawyer...I've read some C.S. Lewis, most recently Mere Christianity. The confirmation classes are a good suggestion; I will keep that in mind.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 2:42 PM

I think that parents are obligated to raise their children to become self-sufficient adults. Providing opportunities for them to go to college does not necessarily mean footing the entire bill. For those parents without the financial resources to pay the cost of school, there is the ability to allow the young adult to live at home rent free while they are working part time and attending community college. There is also the ability to help the children find other sources to help fund their education such as scholarships, etc.

I am 50 and did not go to college. Went to work right out of high school. The finacial aid and college loan programs that exist today did not exist then. I went to community college classes at night and had extensive in-house training at my place of employment which allowed me to progress in my career. I look at college for my children differently than many of you. I believe that today the opportunity to work your way up in a company doesn't exist as much as it did "in the old days". Therefore, I do believe that my children should receive a college education.

"And what about actually having a college experience?" I don't care about my child's experience. I am concerned about the education, but not about the shopping trips, field trips with friends for the weekend, spring break trips, living off-campus rather than dorm housing, etc. My child and I argue all the time because she has friends who have convinced her that it's the parents job to pay for college and everything connected. We told her how much we can/will pay and that she is responsible for the rest. She played too much in high school and lost scholarship eligibility because of GPA. Her SATs were high enough that college acceptance wasn't a problem, but there is nary a merit scholarship in sight.

While your children are small, it's easy to believe that they will always work hard and get scholarships and follow the parents beliefs and teachings. The reality is that there are "average" children, they are not all intelligent and hard-working. It's a tough call when you have to decide whether to pay for the education because you believe it is so important, or to let the child be more responsible and invested in their own education.

And for those of you who continue the "don't have kids if you can't afford them" mantra, I really hope that you are able to cope when life interferes with your plans and things don't turn out the way you expect.

One more thing, success in life isn't always measured by your job position and salary. Look around. Do you really think that everyone who works in a grocery store, or in a doctor's office, or a clerical in any business, or any other job that doesn't require a college degree is living a miserable, unhappy life?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 2:42 PM

What an amazing blog post. Of course you don't owe your kids an education, and they don't owe you Social Security or medical care when you're old and can't provide it for yourself. It all works out in the end. If you want to be selfish with your resources now and feel you don't owe your kids, they surely will not feel they owe you when you need the help either. What a selfish generation I was born into when we question whether we owe an education to our kids when we expect them to pay for endless warfare and social contracts to older generations at the same time a college education is the only thing that stands between them having a dignified lifestyle or living in grinding poverty.

Posted by: Monica | February 23, 2007 2:43 PM

Too many parents today push their kids into college when the kids clearly are not ready to "buckle down" and study, or just not ready to choose a major subject of interest to them. I am fully in favor of allowing kids to work for one or two years after high school in order to find out what "work" is all about and to perhaps learn enough about themselves and possiblec careers to make a good choice of college and major area of study. College now can often be an extension of high school for kids who get it fully paid by doting parents who wouldn't dream of their child working because it would interfere with studying. But most parents are too status-conscious and can't handle that their kid isn't going off to school with Jenny Jones and Tom Smith, Jr., so they send their kid off to college and often the kid ends up partying for two semesters and not doing well academically.

Posted by: Regina T. | February 23, 2007 2:46 PM

I really liked what SAHMbacktowork had to say about parents conveying the importance of education by making saving for it a priority (over having nice cars, expensive material goods, etc.).

I'm another individual who was lucky enough to have parents (my dad) pay for my undergraduate education. He told me when I was starting high school that my job was to get into the best schools I could, and his job was to pay for it. I'm not saying I agree that he "owed" that to me--but that's just how he put it to me.

Even back then, and still to this day, I saw his promise as a tremendous gift and realized how lucky I was. And, realizing the magnitude of that gift, I worked my tail off and got into some very good schools. Once at college, I didn't bask in the "free ride" but rather kept working hard and taking the classes that I felt would help me make it in the real world. After graduation, I was able to get a job that covered all of my living expenses (place of my own, car payments, food, clothing, etc.) and still had enough left over for retirement and other savings.

My husband and I have two kids now, and we have been saving for college since the first one was born. Every month, a good chunk of dough comes out of our checking account and goes to college savings. Will we be able to promise them, like my dad did, that we'll pay for tuition wherever they want to go? Maybe, but maybe not (as others have pointed out, college tuition has skyrocketed recently). However, we darn sure will pay all that we reasonably can after 18+ years of saving. And we'll do so with happy hearts.

(Think I'm going to call my dad tonight just to say thanks once again.)

Posted by: grateful mom | February 23, 2007 2:48 PM

Apologies if this has already been pointed out, but if you expect your child to receive any financial aid (grants and loans) they will have to fill out the FAFSA form every year. If you claim your child as a dependant on your taxes, they will have to put your salary on the FAFSA and this will be taken into account in the amount of aid that they receive. There will be an "expected parental contribution" which your child will have to pay if you won't, either through work or with private loans, which have a much higher interest rate. Just something to keep in mind for those people who think children should finance their own education.

Posted by: Charlottesville | February 23, 2007 2:48 PM

to 2:42

How is your daughter doing in college? Part of the reason I expect her to do this through merit based scholarships is that I believe that if she goofs off in high school her attitude towards education will not change in college and I do not want to foot the bill for that.

Posted by: Another point of view | February 23, 2007 2:50 PM

If someone's "professional" degree (JD, MBA, PhD., etc) is being paid for with Daddy's money, then they are NOT ready to be a professional.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 2:50 PM

"Of course you don't owe your kids an education, and they don't owe you Social Security or medical care when you're old and can't provide it for yourself."

Actually, the kids aren't paying social security and medical care, the government is paying it through the collection of taxes from ALL workers.

I would be more than happy to pay extra payroll taxes if the government paid for college for my children to the extent that I wouldn't be paying anything out of pocket.

Posted by: to Monica | February 23, 2007 2:50 PM

To anon at 2:10 pm

>>>>We have sacrificed a lot to save for this- it's not to be partied away.>Are you going to college with her to ensure this doesn't happen?<<

Parents don't have to go that far. They can, however, point out that the money going towards tuitions is theirs, not the child's.

I said it above - college was my job and my parents were my employers. The occasional rough bump in a difficult class was one thing. But my intelligent sister partied away her first year after meeting her future husband late in her first semester (he was at an adjacent school and two years ahead of her.) She was told that if she didn't shape up her second year my parents were pulling financial support.

She did well her first semester, considered that enough, and failed to get anything above a D her second semester. And my parents withdrew financial support. Since my brother-in-law graduated she didn't see the need to go back anyway, so she didn't bother continuing with her bachelor's.

She admits now it was the stupid thing to do - her professional advancement was severely blunted by not having a degree.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | February 23, 2007 2:51 PM

Chrissy, if you've been off B/C and actively trying for 5 years now, it's definitely time to go see a specialist. I know you said you had been checked out and all was fine, but my OB/Gyn told me the same thing -- and it turned out that I had some pretty basic and easily correctible hormonal things that OB/Gyns just don't typically test for. And has your husband been checked, too?

My advice: go get a workup with a reproductive endocrinologist -- they can run some tests on both of you and give you a better sense of whether there's really a problem or if it's just bad timing. Good luck!

Posted by: Laura | February 23, 2007 2:52 PM

KB | February 23, 2007 02:04 PM

Beautifully put! I wish the run-amok multiple-posting WaPo computer would reprint your comments every hour on this blog, just to make sure no one misses it.

Like SAHMbacktowork, I've taken a course or two each semester for several years, so have also gotten to see how college has changed since catlady was a mere kitten (groan). As noted above, the cost has risen far faster than inflation during the past 15 years, so it's harder nowadays to pay for even a CSS or JC. And students who work too many hours at paying jobs (whether for sheer survival, for a higher standard of living, or to exert independence from parents) wind up not having enough time or stamina to study as much as they need to in order to get the most out of their classes -- WHICH IS THE REASON THEY'RE IN COLLEGE IN THE FIRST PLACE (sorry to shout here, but a few posters seem to lose sight of this fact).

Posted by: catlady | February 23, 2007 2:52 PM

"What about people who can't or don't provide an education for their children? According to Social Contract theories, should they be penalized? Their kids certainly are punished for their parents' failure to help them become educated."

Interesting question - it begs the question of 'what is a good education' [I have a group that has been meaning to have this as the topic of a 'Socrates Cafe' -- there are a significant number of embedded concepts in this].

At the primary/secondary level, most states have been granted coercive powers to ensure that as a parent you provide your child with the opportunity for education. Even if you choose to education your child outside the standard public system, the state still has the authority to compel you to meet some level of minimal standards or risk jail [and losing parental rights of your child].

With both primary/secondary and higher education, society has enabled the government to levy taxes to support these systems -- so indirectly all citizens are required to support the education of all children to a certain minimal level. With higher education, states typically subsidize 35-60% of the of the total cost [at least to public higher education institutions]. No member of society has the ability to recuse themselves from these financial obligations [as part of their taxes].

Beyond that, the question that most have been discussing here is to what extent do parents have an obligation to expand upon the educational opportunities already provided by the state. In this realm, a well-functioning social contract would have parents providing financial assistance to a level within their means that increases the probability of the child's educational success without reducing the child's independence and self-reliance to levels that would inhibit them from becoming a contributing member to society.

So what is the price of failure to comply with this level of support? It increases the risk that the child [or children] will not financially succeed. With this increased risk, comes an increased risk in the general financial health of the family [especially as the parents move into old age]. In short, fulfillment of the social contract includes an element of enlightened self-interest -- and while some families may avoid the risk, on average families that provide more support to their children's education are more likely to prosper.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 2:52 PM

[Sorry -- forgot name on last post]

"What about people who can't or don't provide an education for their children? According to Social Contract theories, should they be penalized? Their kids certainly are punished for their parents' failure to help them become educated."

Interesting question - it begs the question of 'what is a good education' [I have a group that has been meaning to have this as the topic of a 'Socrates Cafe' -- there are a significant number of embedded concepts in this].

At the primary/secondary level, most states have been granted coercive powers to ensure that as a parent you provide your child with the opportunity for education. Even if you choose to education your child outside the standard public system, the state still has the authority to compel you to meet some level of minimal standards or risk jail [and losing parental rights of your child].

With both primary/secondary and higher education, society has enabled the government to levy taxes to support these systems -- so indirectly all citizens are required to support the education of all children to a certain minimal level. With higher education, states typically subsidize 35-60% of the of the total cost [at least to public higher education institutions]. No member of society has the ability to recuse themselves from these financial obligations [as part of their taxes].

Beyond that, the question that most have been discussing here is to what extent do parents have an obligation to expand upon the educational opportunities already provided by the state. In this realm, a well-functioning social contract would have parents providing financial assistance to a level within their means that increases the probability of the child's educational success without reducing the child's independence and self-reliance to levels that would inhibit them from becoming a contributing member to society.

So what is the price of failure to comply with this level of support? It increases the risk that the child [or children] will not financially succeed. With this increased risk, comes an increased risk in the general financial health of the family [especially as the parents move into old age]. In short, fulfillment of the social contract includes an element of enlightened self-interest -- and while some families may avoid the risk, on average families that provide more support to their children's education are more likely to prosper.

Posted by: A Dad | February 23, 2007 2:53 PM

My cousin in an only child who did well in school from first grade on. Top of her class and always bright and curious and interested in learning. She learned when she was around 14 that her parents were not saving any money for her for college and would not be able to help her beyond a small amount. At first she was very angry with them, and then she dealt with it. She got scholarships and a job and went to U. of Michigan and graduated at the top of her class. She continued until she got a Ph.D. from Notre Dame and then after a few years of teaching, she returned to school and got a law degree. All of this she paid for herself or got scholarships and grants, etc. She is an amazing person and I think that, although she might have had it "easier" if she'd had 50% or more of her undergrad education paid by her parents, maybe she wouldn't have been so dedicated to her education or worked so hard to get good grades.

I myself had my entire education paid for and I don't think I really understood the value of a dollar until I was 25 years old. If I had been told the cost of my education, I might have valued it more at the time. I have the money to pay for my son's entire education, but with my cousin's example in mind, I want him to work and pay for some of it himself.

Posted by: I learned too late | February 23, 2007 2:53 PM

"Does anyone have a recommendation for a book explaining theology of the Episcopal church?"

I don't think the BCP is a good intro for theology. Try David Holmes, A Brief History of the Episcopal Church. It's history, but it explains how this affected the theology and worship, and it will give the basics with context.

And, to relate this to the topic, I can make the recommendation thanks to the college education that my parents felt they owed me - a college education teaches skills but also is mind-opening. On the other hand, observation of society reveals that not everyone who goes to college benefits from the liberal-arts approach, else there would not be so much polarization (in the CoE, USA, you name it).

Posted by: ibnsanjil | February 23, 2007 2:54 PM

"Do you really think that everyone who works in a grocery store, or in a doctor's office, or a clerical in any business, or any other job that doesn't require a college degree is living a miserable, unhappy life?"

While I generally agree with your point, anon at 2:42, I am even more saddened because the jobs you list at the end often require a college degree as a criteria of hiring. One of the things that has ratcheted up this focus on a B.A./B.S. as a fundamental middle-class right is that, since the Viet Nam War (when 95% of the middle and upper class boys who could hold a pencil were kept in school by their parents in order to avoid the draft) a bachelor's degree has become a minimum hiring criteria for many jobs whether or not the degree is relevant to the position. This has had the effect of requiring Johnny to get his bachelor's degree even if his dream job is to run a service station, or run the risk of being rejected for entry-level jobs that would position him for his dream.

At a time in my life when I would have given anything to obtain a job as an administrative assistant or receptionist in D.C. (mid -90s), every single position required a bachelor's degree. Please explain how that Greek Civilization degree makes Sally MiddleClass more qualified to be a receptionist than a responsible, mature 24 year old who declined to take on $50K in debt and whose parents couldn't afford to furnish her with a college degree. It has nothing to do with whether education prepares someone for Job A or Job B, and everything to do with the elitist notion that someone with a Bachelor's degree is a good fit for the job, one of us, smarter than the less-degreed. It's nuts.

Don't misunderstand me. I love education for education's sake, but we have now collectively imposed a very expensive minimum hiring credential on an entire generation of kids (and apparently their parents) without any valid, workforce-driven reason for doing so.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 23, 2007 2:56 PM

Another issue here isn't just saving for your children's college education. Parents need to start preparing kids for college at a younger age, so they can start taking responsibility and preparing for scholarships. Almost anyone can get a scholarship for something -- academics, sports, drama, music, being a certain ethnicity or from a certain region, etc. Financial aid brochures listing scholarships are pages and pages long!

Another great idea is that my state provides free in-state tuition, on an income-sensitive basis for any student who signs up for the Higher Learning Access Program in sixth or seventh grade, then earns decent grades and takes a certain "core" curriculum. If a student chooses to go to a private school, he or she gets a credit equivalent to in-state tuition. It's a great idea and has had great response. A program like this is a good "balance" of states helping their citizens and students taking responsibility for some of their educational expenses.

Posted by: lawgirl | February 23, 2007 2:57 PM

NC lawyer,
I was reading your posting at 2:56 and halfway thru the first paragraph I knew it was you. Your writing is consistent (and I agree with what you said here too). I would love to see vocational schools (fed by high schools) come back for some kids who are either not ready for or just not college material. At least then they received training for a trade (BTW - I know a female BMW mechanic who makes over $50/hour).

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 3:00 PM

She is a freshman and the first semester was very shaky. We do understand that first semester trouble is not uncommon, so we are giving her an opportunity to improve.

We just told her that if she likes being at college, then she better do whatever it takes to bring her grades up to a level that we set based on her abilities. If she doesn't meet those expectations, she will be home next year, either working full time or attending community college while working part time. She is not working during the school year right now, only in the summer. We explained that she has nothing but school right now, so she can't blame it on having to work.

Part of the problem, I believe, is a maturity issue. She is a procrastinator and is just now starting to accept that she can't put things off or she may run out of time.

She also wants to move off campus and we are refusing to co-sign for any off campus housing until the grades are acceptable. We are asking for 3.0 GPA which she is completely able to maintain if she applies herself.

Posted by: 2:42 | February 23, 2007 3:01 PM

My husband and I are still trrying to reconcile our views on this subject - I paid my own way through undergrad and grad school on scholarships, assistantships, and fellowships. I worked summers and did some tutoring to help with spending money, and my parents did help out when the scholarships didn't cover something. My parents' goal for me was not to have to work as hard as they did to pay for college. My husband's parents had a state pre-paid plan for him, but he lived mostly on loans for undergrad and entirely on loans for grad school. We do expect our children to go to college (if not, they'd better present me a darn good plan for what they want to do instead, or I'm sending them to welding school) and I'm advocating for the "paying the equivalent of in-state tuition" route. They'd be responsible for the rest, be it through scholarships, work, or loans. I think that is enough of a leg up not to cripple them while still leaving them enough room for independence and money management.

And community college and trade schools are entirely valid options! I'm amazed at the work that a good welder can do (and the money someone with a specialty certification can make) and there are huge demands out there for people with two-year degrees. Niches are good - there was a local program in golf course turfgrass management that couldn't graduate enough people to fill employers' needs. Whatever floats your boat!

Posted by: SPC | February 23, 2007 3:07 PM

I think it is IMPERATIVE for any society to assure an education for it's children.

And despite not having children of my own, much prefer paying taxes to educate the next generations vs funding preemptive wars!

Posted by: Kim | February 23, 2007 3:11 PM

I think we owe ourselves an education for all kids. In other words, someday we will be old. And our kids' contemporaries, whether or not they are our own kids, will be our nurses, physicians, fire fighters, police officers, bus and van ancab drivers, emt's, electricians, etc. For our own selfish reasons, don't we owe it to ourselves to see they get a good education?

Posted by: c | February 23, 2007 3:12 PM

Yes we owe our kids as much education as they can effectively use. For some high school, for some graduate school (although in most situations by then they can pay for or borrow for most of it.)

Yes education is very expensive - and if you are a new parent start that 529 fund (or similar) NOW! My daughter got her first mutual fund at about 2 months - and now at 18 and a HS senior she can pretty much afford anywhere :)

If you are retired, empty nester, childless etc... you should be helping to pay for education too through taxes, or gifts. Education is absolutely the best investment one can make in society. It pays for itself many fold.

Posted by: Kenneth Gallaher | February 23, 2007 3:13 PM

"I love education for education's sake, but we have now collectively imposed a very expensive minimum hiring credential on an entire generation of kids (and apparently their parents) without any valid, workforce-driven reason for doing so."

It seems to me that education has become very Big Business. The cost of textbooks is very high, and I find it incredible that the textbooks are changed so frequently, especially when the changes are minor.

Posted by: I agree | February 23, 2007 3:13 PM

"And despite not having children of my own, much prefer paying taxes to educate the next generations vs funding preemptive wars!"

Hey, graduates of Harvard Business School start preemptive wars -- look at W. Talk about a big investment in education for minimal return.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 3:15 PM

I graduated from my CSS with a huge debt. My student loan amount was $90.00.

Posted by: Fred | February 23, 2007 3:21 PM

Re: education being big business

Textbooks are a racket! I've had books that cost $140! I can usually save a little buying on the Internet, and get the satisfaction of not funding the campus book store, but still. Then they come out with new additions, when a paperback supplement would work for updates. Then the book store offers pennies on the dollar to buy them back! I've done a little better selling books on Amazon, but have chosen to keep quite a few because they're worth more to me than anyone else.

I'm still trying to decide what to do with all my bar review books, provided I get good news when results come out and don't still need them. Selling vs. doing something spiteful. Hmmm...

Posted by: lawgirl | February 23, 2007 3:22 PM

KB said, in part, "As a professor I've had several students in this situation, flailing with near full-time work on top of full-time study at an expensive and demanding private university. I'm sorry for them, but aside from explaining that their priorities are failing them, what can I do? They're tired and confused, they can't get their homework done on time, or they turn in hastily scrabbled work which is hardly their best and which they failed to work deliberately through, and learn from. They can't find time to master new material before it comes up on exams; they just don't have the time resources necessary to succeed in what needs to be a serious commitment. They are sacrificing tremendously and working very hard, but it's misdirected and self-defeating. Why are they driving themselves into the ground to attend a great university, then wasting that hard-fought opportunity by not devoting any time to it? by accumulating a poor transcript, because they can't focus during this short window of opportunity, on their courses? that checkered transcript will damn many of the dreams they are working toward, forever . . . (many hope to be pre-law, pre-vet, pre-med, pre-pharmacy; they need to show *achievement* in college, not just paid bills, and they need to actually learn the foundational material of their disciplines. This is a full-time commitment.)"

I am not going to take the position that anyone's parents owe them anything other than love, kindness, and the instilling of values and a solid work ethic. Having said that, I was one of those students KB so aptly describes. My undergraduate GPA reflected the conflict between working 20 - 30 hours per week, and my schoolwork. That middling GPA was unimpressive to prospective employers and so I was not qualified to obtain a job that would enable me to pay off my undergrad debt at anything faster than a snail's pace. It took me ten+ years to pay off the debt, and even longer to realize that I could go to law school without having a trust fund and even though neither of my parents had a 4-year degree.

I took on new education debt in my late thirties. I will never retire. We are focusing on providing our kids' with a good education now - in elementary school (one private, one public if anyone cares)-- because the time to instill a love of education and high standards is when kids are young. When our oldest talks about going to Duke (sorry, dotted - he doesn't want to attend UVA either - sniff), we discuss what it takes to get there in terms of his academic performance, that we expect him to put himself in a position to qualify for merit scholarships, and that we will work together to make a sensible decision about how to pay for school when the time comes.

We are truly, truly fortunate to have the option to take on debt for our kids' college educations (surely many parents cannot qualify), and our children appreciate the financial and academic choices we've made in our lives and how those choices impact future options.

No one should kid themselves, though, that their children will have the same career and life options whether the kids pay for their education themselves or if their parents contribute or pick up the entire tab. Sure, some superstars can overcome whatever odds, and some lazy bums will be losers regardless, and "Bill Gates dropped out of school, and look how he turned out." The truth for the average person is as KB described at 2:04.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 23, 2007 3:22 PM

I don't know about "owing" a college education. But our child -12 weeks away from making her appearance- will have a fully funded 529. If we can afford to supplement that when she goes to college, we will do so as long as our own financial stability and retirement is not affected.

One thing I do think is important is to make known to your child what you can provide/intend to provide. My parents promised to pay for my undergrad education. They begged and pleaded for me to go to a state school (then $5500/year) instead of the larger state that I preferred but I did as they asked b/c I did not want to create more of a financial burden on them than was necessary. They were not rich by any means adn I was grateful they were paying.

Then, my soph year, they got divorced. They promptly informed me they would no longer pay for school. This was not b/c they could no longer afford it and was not due to a long, protracted divorce involving lots of attorneys. I was bluntly told by my father he did not want to give me any money for school b/c he could not be assured that he would not be giving more than my mother. Nice. I was EXTREMELY resentful.

So, I paid for undergrad and grad (which I FULLY funded via loans and a couple small grants)as well as all living expenses. I graduated with $80,000 in loans. It was difficult. Very difficult. But, I pinched and scraped for many years and am doing fine now.

I cannot say that all the years of Ramen Noodles, no savings, no healthcare (very scary) etc. made me stronger or more appreciative. I think I was just as appreciative when my parents were helping b/c I KNEW they were helping. I think this is something people say to justify their choice not to help their kids in any way. Just my opinion. All I know from my situation is:
-If you make a promise or your intentions known about what you will pay for, stick to it (barring extraordinary circumstances) and
-I do not want my child to struggle as much as I did.

Posted by: JS | February 23, 2007 3:23 PM

"If you want to do it you can."

Yeah, my parents raised me with the expectation that I would go to college, and I was very good at school.

After I graduated from high school though, my parents divorced which left me on my own.

I was accepted into George Mason, largely a commuter college, so I took courses there and supported myself with several part-time jobs, such as driving a delivery truck for the Washington Post. My first priority was to be able to afford rent and medical supplies to treat my diabetes. I had no health insurance, and let me tell you, individual policies aren't affordable for diabetics on what I was earning..., or what i could possibly earn given my experience and educational level.

But I plugged through, constantly exhausted, falling asleep in my classes, but that's far from the worst. I can't tell you how many times I fell asleep on the road and woke up in the other lane looking at the red light in my rear view mirror in the intersection I just went through. I can't believe that not only that I hadn't killed anybody, but I got through that period of my life alive.

Then my eyes began to hemmorage. It took about 2 years before I went completely blind. There is no doubt in my mind that the stress I endured was the cause.

I dropped out of college. As much as I wanted to be successful in the eyes of my parents, I just couldn't keep up.

I tried. It ruined me. I failed. Now I will never be able to se the light of day as long as I live.

Some people call me "successfull" for what I have accomplished despite my condition. I don't see it that way. I look at it as "I'm lucky to still be alive."

And, as a rsult, I wil never, ever, do to my kids as my parents did to me. They will always be welcome under my roof as long as I have one to sleep under myself.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 23, 2007 3:26 PM

If someone's "professional" degree (JD, MBA, PhD., etc) is being paid for with Daddy's money, then they are NOT ready to be a professional.

Posted by: | February 23, 2007 02:50 PM

I don't even know where that comment comes from except probably a place of bitterness. I'm not sure why there is some greater value to a MBA achieved by someone who takes on debt and/or works their way through as compared to one that is paid for by parents. My in laws paid for my dh's MS and it truly was a gift in that it allowed him to focus his energies on getting everything out of it that he could. He didn't party all the time. I think it says a lot about how he was raised. Not everyone who has priviliges is selfish and lazy.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 23, 2007 3:26 PM

"How good will they be professionally if they aren't used to managing their own affairs?"

Dunno. Who paid for President Bush to go to Yale for undergrad and to get his MBA at Harvard Business School?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 3:31 PM

Oh, and to Chrissy, we conceived on the first try. I highly recommend investing in the "ovulation prediction" kits . . . you take them similar to a pregnancy test. They indicate when you are, um, at your peaks, so to speak.

I'm living proof they work.

Good luck.

Posted by: JS -to Chrissy | February 23, 2007 3:31 PM

Having read more of the comments I will add a few things.
It's not all about money. It is about having books in the house, it's about a transmitted respect/love for those books (started story time at 2-3 months), it's about an attitude of respect and importance for education, it is about real interest in the child's education. What is your kid studying this semester - do you know? Have you helped them?

As far as high school or even college jobs that are not career oriented - they are mostly worthless if you can avoid them - and yes I know many cannot - so don't start... But there are no needed life skills in burger flipping.

I know I am very very lucky...because that HS senior of mine who has the savings to go anywhere earns it in other ways all the time. She is the one who pushes herself into challenging endeavors in and out of school - and then makes it all happen. She is the one who has now applied to some very challenging universities - and will succeed there too no doubt. The kid amazes me. Can I take all the credit? OH no - luck of the draw to some extent for sure. And what would have happened to all that money if she was a HS drop out? Never have to answer that question thank goodness!

Posted by: Kenneth Gallaher | February 23, 2007 3:32 PM

Education is great, but if everyone is cloistered in the ivory towers, who is mowing the grounds, emptying the trash, repairing cars, and delivering much-needed pizzas?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 3:32 PM

Dunno. Who paid for President Bush to go to Yale for undergrad and to get his MBA at Harvard Business School?"

My point exactly!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 3:35 PM

"Bill Gates dropped out of school, and look how he turned out."

-------------

Just a note on this - Bill Gates didn't drop out of school; he took a leave of absence.

Look at what Gates built starting with nothing - well, nothing except his multi-million dollar trust fund and his super-wealthy and well-connected parents.

For the lawyers on this list - you've heard of the firm Preston Gates & Ellis - now Kirkpatrick and Lockhart Preston Ellis Gates? Who do you think the name partner "Gates" is? It's William Henry Gates II - father of the co-founder of Microsoft.

Gates II's wife, Mary, was also well-connected; her family was close friends with IBM Board Chairman John Akers - one of the ways Microsoft made contact with IBM in the first place.

Just shows that no matter how hard you work or how smart you are, it helps to have money and connections at the start.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 3:36 PM

I'm just saying that you can't blame your parents for everything. If they can't or won't pay for school are you not going to go? Are you going to say that they ruined your life or that it is their fault you didn't go. I don't think that any child should just expect that their parents are going to pay for school. It is a gift and one that every parent won't or can't give.

I have wonderful, loving parents who always helped me in any way they could. However, they just couldn't afford to pay for school.

Posted by: scarry | February 23, 2007 3:37 PM

Haven't read all the comments but want to admit that Yes! I'm one of those terrible selfish parents that rejoices when their kid moves out! I was very glad when my son moved out last year (he's twenty). He had trouble with his first year of college, dropped out, worked for a year (grew up a whole lot) and then went back - it was a rough year for everyone.

Posted by: RJ | February 23, 2007 3:37 PM

If someone's "professional" degree (JD, MBA, PhD., etc) is being paid for with Daddy's money, then they are NOT ready to be a professional.

Posted by: | February 23, 2007 02:50 PM


I'll second moxiemom's response to this snarkery and raise it. I graduated with quite a few students whose parents paid for their JDs. Because of that gift, several of them are now able to stay home with their children. Several others were able to take low-paying public interest jobs, e.g., providing legal services on behalf of non-profit advocacy organizations making the world a better place. Jobs requiring a JD and paying $35 - $80K are not an option for those who went to law school on loans - unless there's a sugar-daddy in the picture somewhere.

Isn't this what we seek for ourselves - to have options for jobs, and in how we raise our children? Why would we automatically label in a demeaning manner graduates whose parents had the means to pay for their degrees and who valued education, and in so doing, who provide their kids with options?

Father of 4, I have a similar but far less compelling story and agree with you completely that my kids are welcome under my roof for as long as they want to be there. We are not raising kids who would interpret that guarantee as a basis for being either irresponsible or unproductive.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 23, 2007 3:40 PM

who is... delivering much-needed pizzas?

Some of us pick up our own pizzas, you lazy sot.

Posted by: To 3:32 | February 23, 2007 3:42 PM

Um, no- it's not unfair! Then why are you having so many kids??? It's incredibly unfortunate to have kids from state schools with 75K in debt!! You would let your kids have that kind of debt? Why not limit your family size to what you can actually afford?? THAT'S IRRESPONSIBLE.


Posted by: | February 23, 2007 02:17 PM

2:17 -- you missed my point. When I was in college, it was easier for middle class parents to afford to send their kids to college because the costs made up a smaller percentage of income. College costs have since skyrocketed while parental income has not, by and large. Taking inflation into account, I have to save a much higher percentage of my income to pay college expenses for my 3 children than my parents did to send me and my two siblings to college. As a consequence, it will be harder for my husband and I to save for retirement than it was for my parents. My children love me, but somehow I don't think they really want me having to move in with them in my old age because I emptied out my 401(k) to pay 100% of their college expenses.

I also don't appreciate you calling me IRRESPONSIBLE when you know nothing about me. You have no idea how much money I've saved in college funds for my children. If you read my initial post carefully I never said that I would allow my children to rack up $75K in debt to attend a state school. I only pointed out that even public universities are not cheap and it is unrealistic to expect, much less DEMAND, that every parent save that kind of money to ensure that their children all graduate from college debt free.

So people who can't save up that much money shouldn't have that many kids?? If you ask my children, I'm sure they'd tell you they'd prefer to be alive and have a few student loans than to never have been born at all. Your attitude is really quite elitist.

Posted by: MP | February 23, 2007 3:44 PM

"I graduated with quite a few students whose parents paid for their JDs. Because of that gift, several of them are now able to stay home with their children."

I'll bet mom and dad are mad! They paid for a lawyer in the family and got a lay-about! What a waste. Why go to law school to hang out at home all day?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 3:44 PM

"A related, equally imoportant question: To what extent do I -- a childless adult -- owe YOUR children an education? Currently, 52 percent of my state and local taxes go towards education YOUR kids. Shouldn't my share be lower, say 33 percent? If not, WHY not?"

Well, for starters, would you like to collect social security? Who will pay into it, if not other people's children?

When you go to the hospital would you like literate workers, from the admissions people to the orderlies up to the doctors themselves? Would you like the pharmacist to be able to do his or her job properly?

Would you like a literate society with good skills, or not?

Of course, I pay for the roads, too, but I don't have a gas guzzling SUV. As a taxpayer, I subsidize a lot of things I don't use, such as stadiums, but education, I'm honestly surprised when people resent paying for it.

Not paying for it is a lot more expensive (research the expenses of incarcerating someone for ten or twelve years).

Posted by: Kate | February 23, 2007 3:47 PM

I'll bet mom and dad are mad! They paid for a lawyer in the family and got a lay-about! What a waste. Why go to law school to hang out at home all day?

Posted by: | February 23, 2007 03:44 PM

Umm, they delivered a baby and a placenta, not their brain. They are still a lawyer even if they aren't practicing. I'm not even gonna address the "hang out at home all day" comment because you clearly know very little about child rearing and what is involved.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 23, 2007 3:48 PM

Father of 4

"And, as a rsult, I wil never, ever, do to my kids as my parents did to me."

And yet you moved back in with your mother when you were married....
Your drug use might have something to do with you getting kicked out of your house.


"They will always be welcome under my roof as long as I have one to sleep under myself."

Get real. It's obvious that you had these kids to help you bear the loneliness of your life. And you are setting yourself up as a crutch for these kids 'cause you
don't want them to ever leave.

Your tendency to make melodramatic statements/promises is one of the signs of an alcoholic - but I'm sure you know that already.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 3:48 PM

"I think I was just as appreciative when my parents were helping b/c I KNEW they were helping."

Elementary school, middle school, high school, and then college. Many, many children today see college as just the next step in their education. They expect their parents to provide the college education and do not appreciate it any more than they appreciated their parents sending them to middle school. Many do not really appreciate the effort and sacrifice made by the parents to afford sending them to college.

Posted by: anon | February 23, 2007 3:48 PM

I think JS raises a good point -- a lot of the discussion has been focused on "yes you must" or "no you're spoiling your kid," when I think it's really a question of how does your choice about paying your kid's college education reflect your values? Family struggling to pay for necessities, completely understandable not to contribute. Family who buys expensive vacations and cars but refuses to contribute a cent to college fund, priorities out of whack.

This was something that put up a big wall between me and my dad. My senior year, I came to visit and talk about college, and discovered a new (used) Porsche in the driveway -- his pride and joy. That same visit, he told me that he couldn't afford to contribute the $2000 "expected contribution" that my college assessed against him. That told me that I just wasn't important to him.

For the record, turns out I was completely wrong. Found out 15 yrs later that my stepmom had been putting huge pressure on him not to pay for my college. So he "complied" -- but he also kept paying child support until I graduated four years later (guess he just forgot to mention to her that his legal obligation expired when I turned 18). So he did manage to cover almost all of the expected parental contribution in a backhanded way. But the pain of thinking that he valued a toy more than me caused a lot of problems between us for a number of years.

Posted by: Laura | February 23, 2007 3:48 PM

Did anyone see the ABC or FOX special about 6 months ago on college debt and why it is so expensive and how to make better choices with your kids.

Despite the arguement that college costs are increasing drastically because the Universisites concentrate on everything BUT education, the stories involved were relevant to this conversation.

They had 3 families families making decisions on colleges. Typical in vs out of state debates, many of the families were working class people just trying to make ends meet. There were poor decisions being made all around, one father decided to send his daughter out of state - tripling the cost, because she "thought the campus was beautiful." The best part was showing the kids that had graduated and borrowed heavily - one had a teaching degree, another accounting - both bachelors degrees - one owed 80,000 (teacher) one owed 45,000. Both admitted after the fact that they made huge mistakes borrowing so much money - the teacher in particular. Both had families that were not able to contribute financially - so what did these kids do? Instead of being prudent, going to community college, living at home (if possible), going to college in state, etc. - they compromised their futures on prestigious universities.

It is all about making the right decisions. If you want to be an elementary school teacher you do not need an Ivy League Education. If your parents can afford it - great - if they can't I suggest an alternative. Don't bankrupt your future.

Lastly, Father of 2 - You might find yourself poor and alone after you have educated your kids at all costs. There is no guarantee they will take care of you in your older years, the best thing you can do is help them make good decisions and set limits. They can't have it all.

NC - trade and vocational schools make so much sense - that they are not being implemented and kept is a crime.

Posted by: CMAC | February 23, 2007 3:50 PM

to 03:48 PM

You comments are mean and uncalled for.

Posted by: scarry | February 23, 2007 3:52 PM

I agree that education is a big business. I don't think most private universities make any effort to control costs-- a high price tag is a selling point, it means the school is prestigious, right?

The current cost of a bachelors degree is criminal. My hope is that technology will make it easier for public universities to offer truly affordable degree programs via the internet on a large scale. Would it give a traditional college experience? No, of course not, but if it saved $50-80k, I think many people would pass on the frat parties and hanging out on the quad.

Meanwhile, we're saving-- our aim is to pay for about 60%. I hate for my kids to start life deep in debt, but somehow handing anything worth $80k to an 18 year old seems wrong-- how could they appreciate it, if they didn't contribute?

Sometimes I wonder if our national problem with debt doesn't stem from the easy loans we hand college students. Nothing about the college loan process suggests that debt is something to be avoided. Heck, we don't even give 18 year olds the "truth in lending" statement I got when I bought my house.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM... | February 23, 2007 3:52 PM

I'll bet mom and dad are mad! They paid for a lawyer in the family and got a lay-about! What a waste. Why go to law school to hang out at home all day?

Posted by: | February 23, 2007 03:44 PM

Mom and dad of my closest friend are thrilled that they are the parents of a superstar. She is a delightful, smart, responsible daughter with a good head on her shoulders and she is able to be home with her daughter. She is no less a superstar because she isn't sitting in the office next to me. Why is it a waste for someone to make the best choice for herself and her family, after earning stellar high school and undergraduate grades, and busting her a$$ (she was 8th in our class), and whose parents could afford to provide that opportunity? She's not hanging out at home; she's raising her daughter.

So am I to understand, anon at 3:44, that there's only one acceptable approach to life and only one appropriate use of an advanced degree? I thought feminism was about me having an opportunity to choose the path that is right for me. Apparantly, you disagree.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 23, 2007 3:53 PM

My college sophomore daughter loves to whine about how we are not providing her with the kind of college life she thought she'd have (that is, sorority girl -- bloody expensive anymore -- no job, freedom to goof off or study, a nice car to cruise around, spring break, etc.). I AM SICK OF THIS DISCUSSION. We are not going to bleed ourselves white on account of one child who feels she's entitled to a life of privilege. As it is, we've gone closer to the bone than we like to live so that she can attend a private liberal arts school.

Anyone who says good parents provide this kind of "experience" for this child is nuts. Clearly, we messed up somehow with this kid -- we're not upper class, but her tastes sure are.

Posted by: Baloney | February 23, 2007 3:54 PM

"Education is great, but if everyone is cloistered in the ivory towers, who is mowing the grounds, emptying the trash, repairing cars, and delivering much-needed pizzas?"

Illegal Aliens, but of course!

Posted by: hola! | February 23, 2007 3:55 PM

"They expect their parents to provide the college education and do not appreciate it any more than they appreciated their parents sending them to middle school. Many do not really appreciate the effort and sacrifice made by the parents to afford sending them to college."

I think this says more about the parents than the children. My parents paid for my BA and my brother's at private schools on one state college professor's salary. How did they do this? By making good choices all along. When I aksed why we didn't have a bigger house or newer car I was told about the value of saving money. I knew that my college education was paid for by years of sacrifice by my parents.

I am very grateful for that gift and grateful to have started out with a clean slate. I am 37 and I know people who are still paying for those degrees. It was a gift for which I am extremely grateful and the rewards of which I reap everyday even though I am "hanging out at home all day". I think if parents can pay for it it is terrific, but they certainly shouldn't jeopardize their financial security in retirement to pay for school.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 23, 2007 3:55 PM

Yah scarry, I agree - I've only commented a few times, but why are there people who are so mean to F of 4? It boggles my mind.

Posted by: RJ | February 23, 2007 3:56 PM

I don't know why people are so mean to father of 4 RJ. It's sad when people are just trying to contribute to the discussion and people have to be nasty.

Posted by: scarry | February 23, 2007 3:58 PM

"Despite the arguement(sic) that college costs are increasing drastically because the Universisites(sic) concentrate on everything BUT education..."

By far the highest line item on college budgets is faculty salaries, which you'll agree is as it should be.

Posted by: To CMAC | February 23, 2007 4:01 PM

Father of 4 is a former "bad boy" who is an alcoholic, a sexist jerk, and a really bad father.

This blog started about a year ago and Father of 4 has shown his true colors from the beginning.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 4:02 PM

not sure these Fo4 attacks should remain on the blog. First they are anonymous, second they violate the Post policy on personal attacks.

Posted by: Wow! | February 23, 2007 4:07 PM

Father of 4 knows better than to pay attention to those posts, and so do we.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 23, 2007 4:07 PM

Moxie - we have a winner!

"By making good choices all along. When I aksed why we didn't have a bigger house or newer car I was told about the value of saving money. I knew that my college education was paid for by years of sacrifice by my parents."


My parents were the same way and when my kids ask about my "old car" and super vacations their friends take I remind them in age appropriate ways on how we are saving money and helping them out for college and me and dad when we retire.

Posted by: cmac | February 23, 2007 4:07 PM

Father of 4 is a former "bad boy" who is an alcoholic, a sexist jerk, and a really bad father.

This blog started about a year ago and Father of 4 has shown his true colors from the beginning.

You are such an assssssssssssssssssss.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 4:09 PM

"I don't think most private universities make any effort to control costs-- a high price tag is a selling point, it means the school is prestigious, right?"

I've attended one of each. Have you? Private universities give far, far more outright grants than public schools do. A high price tag isn't a selling point. A high ranking is, and the money is invested in the areas that will produce a higher ranking, including the number of books in the library, faculty salaries, and lower faculty / student ratio.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 4:10 PM

"Father of 4 is a former "bad boy" who is an alcoholic, a sexist jerk, and a really bad father."

Ummm... Fo4 has a very dry sense of humor, and people who COMPLETELY LACK a sense of humor regularly take him seriously.

Life is too short to get angry about a blog.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM... | February 23, 2007 4:11 PM

""Many do not really appreciate the effort and sacrifice made by the parents to afford sending them to college."

I think this says more about the parents than the children."

I am the parent and I disagree with you. We live in the least expensive neighborhood in a great school district in order for our children to receive a good education. We drive the oldest cars and take the cheapest vacations compared to my daughter's friends. We don't fly because driving is cheaper for a family of four. If it's too far to drive for vacation, we don't go. We have always told our children that they are in our family, not their friends' families, and that we do what we can. One child is very accepting and understanding, while the other is resentful and believes that we are short-changing her somehow.

Even though we live better than most people in this country, we live in an area of much privilege and my child really believes that the lifestyle and material possessions of her friends are the norm. Therefore, she feels like somehow we are holding back and sending her to school is not the sacrifice that it has been for us.

Posted by: anon | February 23, 2007 4:13 PM

Off topic question - I just found out from my neighbor's dd that the profit from the sales of their Girl Scout cookies is being used to pay for a party for the scouts. Am I the only one who was under the impression that the money went for other stuff like scouts that couldn't afford uniforms or to give money to a shelter? Is this troop an anomoly? Is it up to each troop? Seems like a lot of effort and time to pay for a super fun party for girls who already have a lot. I'm a little surprised that I never thought to ask this before.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 23, 2007 4:13 PM

I'm still new to this blog board, so don't know much re Fof4's history, specifically whether he's ever posted anything to support the nastiness anonymously written above.

But what I DO know is that the person who wrote all those things is demeaning him-/herself. Little wonder his/her snarky cracks are all anonymous.

Posted by: catlady | February 23, 2007 4:14 PM

Even though we live better than most people in this country, we live in an area of much privilege and my child really believes that the lifestyle and material possessions of her friends are the norm. Therefore, she feels like somehow we are holding back and sending her to school is not the sacrifice that it has been for us.


Posted by: anon | February 23, 2007 04:13 PM

I'm sorry she feels that way. I did too sometimes when I was a teen. Sometimes it takes a little life experience and perspective to appreciate these gifts. Try to think of it as a seed you've planted that you sometimes have to wait for. Its hard to understand these things when we are young. You are doing the right thing.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 23, 2007 4:17 PM

I'm interested in all the discussion of Ivy League schools. Wasn't there a study out just a couple of months ago that couldn't correlate prestige and the quality of education? That is to say, good education happens at many institutions that don't have name recognition.

Posted by: Grimm | February 23, 2007 4:17 PM

Off topic question - I just found out from my neighbor's dd that the profit from the sales of their Girl Scout cookies is being used to pay for a party for the scouts. Am I the only one who was under the impression that the money went for other stuff like scouts that couldn't afford uniforms or to give money to a shelter? Is this troop an anomoly? Is it up to each troop? Seems like a lot of effort and time to pay for a super fun party for girls who already have a lot. I'm a little surprised that I never thought to ask this before.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 23, 2007 04:13 PM

Really? That's awful. I thought it went to sponsor girls who couldn't afford the uniform and trips, etc as well. Geez. I work right upstairs from the Girl Scouts government affairs office- should I storm in and ask them what the deal is? lol

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | February 23, 2007 4:17 PM

Moxiemom, I don't know if things have changed but when I was a kid, cookie money went for trips to the scout jamborees and stuff like that. Some of it may have gone toward more charitable ends, but I clearly remember trying to sell as many boxes as possible so we could get to the jamboree.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 23, 2007 4:17 PM

Father of 4 is a former "bad boy" who is an alcoholic, a sexist jerk, and a really bad father.

This blog started about a year ago and Father of 4 has shown his true colors from the beginning.

Posted by: | February 23, 2007 04:02 PM

You show your true colors every day that you pounce on his slightest comment with anonymous attacks. If he's a jerk, pot meet kettle.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 4:18 PM

"But what I DO know is that the person who wrote all those things is demeaning him-/herself. Little wonder his/her snarky cracks are all anonymous."

Maybe you should start using your real name before you accuse others of being "anonymous"

Posted by: el barto | February 23, 2007 4:18 PM

I'm interested in all the discussion of Ivy League schools. Wasn't there a study out just a couple of months ago that couldn't correlate prestige and the quality of education? That is to say, good education happens at many institutions that don't have name recognition.

Posted by: Grimm | February 23, 2007 04:17 PM


Of course good education can happen anywhere, but tell that to the hiring managers!
I received a GREAT education at a small not well known school, with a 3.93 overall GPA and a 4.0 in my major.
I couldn't get an interview w/ the big firms to save my life. They only recruit at the "name" schools.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 4:19 PM

I don't care what the Girl Scouts use the cookie money for, as long as they're honest about it. I'm upset because not one Girl Scout hit me up to buys cookies this year, and I miss my Tag-a-Longs!!

Posted by: catmommy | February 23, 2007 4:20 PM

"Wasn't there a study out just a couple of months ago that couldn't correlate prestige and the quality of education? That is to say, good education happens at many institutions that don't have name recognition."

I believe you may be referring to a study that examined the success of individuals who were accepted at Ivy league schools but chose not to attend as compared to those who did attend. What they found was that if your background was sufficient that you would be accepted at an Ivy league school, you suffered no lifetime earnings 'penalty' attending a different institution.

Posted by: A Dad | February 23, 2007 4:22 PM

"Despite the arguement(sic) that college costs are increasing drastically because the Universisites(sic) concentrate on everything BUT education..."

By far the highest line item on college budgets is faculty salaries, which you'll agree is as it should be.

Posted by: To CMAC | February 23, 2007 04:01 PM

No - actually I wouldn't agree. Part of the problem in many of the presitigious universities today is that the faculty not teaching. Their assitants do much of the leg work for class, grading, office hours, etc. The faculties are busy getting published and researching. I don't put full-time college professors on a pedestal. Some of the best professors I know are those that work in the field they teach - yes, part-timers. The flip side is a member of academia for 30+ years that has never worked in the field in which they teach. My experience in undergraduate and post graduate is that the part-timer is a better professor - they live in the real world. It is an education we are after, is it not?

Posted by: cmac | February 23, 2007 4:22 PM

The profits from Girl Scout cookie sales do not all go directly to the troop. Most of the profits go to a higher level of the organization, e.g. GSCM (Girl Scouts of Central MD), and only a small portion goes to the troop itself. GSCM provides the types of things you questioned such as free or subsidized camps for poor scouts, uniforms and supplies, etc. The individual troops can use the money for any purpose such as field trip, party, badge activity, charitable event, etc.

Each troop is required to provide an accounting at the end of the year for all troop monies. The money is supposed to be used for the girls so there is very little carry-over from year-to-year, unless a big event is planned that would require money to be saved over a long period of time. for example, a trip to one of the girl scout centers in another part of the world would be acceptable reason to carry money over multiple years.

Posted by: former Girl Scout leader | February 23, 2007 4:23 PM

former Girl Scout leader - interesting - thanks for the clarification.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 23, 2007 4:25 PM

Why is it awful for girl scouts to work hard for a party, instead of having it all handed to them?

Most troops do community service, and I'm pretty sure the "service unit" (one level above troops in the GS bureaucracy) gets a cut of the cookie sales too. They offer scholarships for girls who can't afford dues and uniforms and stuff, so some of the cookie money may go to that.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM... | February 23, 2007 4:27 PM

Dear Some Guy,

This is all well and good, but why should anyone expect me to agree that more than half of my state and local taxes should be spent on services from which I obtain an ill-defined secondary benefit that cannot be quantified in any socio-economic metric of which I am aware?

Recall my previous posting, in which I said that it seemed reasonable for the state and local governments to spend 33% of my tax revenue on education.

Should parents think that 33% of my tax dollars is an insufficient amount, I recommend that they consider one of the following options:

1. Ante up more of the funding for education
2. Scale back their expectations of what primary and secondary education should provide. I think I should help fund primary and secondary education. I do not think I should be expected to fund the educational equivalent of a Mercedes Benz in every hosuehold.
3. Exercise family planing so that they can provide adequate funding for their children's education.

Posted by: Mister Methane | February 23, 2007 4:27 PM

"I received a GREAT education at a small not well known school, with a 3.93 overall GPA and a 4.0 in my major.
I couldn't get an interview w/ the big firms to save my life. They only recruit at the "name" schools."

On the other hand, try having a 3.5 from a top 5 school in your profession and explaining to an HR person that your GPA is actually above average for your particular school. There isn't a perfect solution...you do the best you can with what you have.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 4:28 PM

The faculties are busy getting published and researching....... It is an education we are after, is it not?

Where do you think new knowledge comes from?

Posted by: To CMAC | February 23, 2007 4:28 PM

To the wimpy anonymous poster at 03:48:
I love Father of 4's sense of humor and humanity. Even if he has made mistakes in his past are you such a mean spirited person you could not overlook or forgive? I hope you don't have children or, if you do, they are perfect so you don't have to judge them the way you do F of 4.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 4:28 PM

"Education is great, but if everyone is cloistered in the ivory towers, who is mowing the grounds, emptying the trash, repairing cars, and delivering much-needed pizzas?"
I don't care as long as it is not my kid.

Posted by: AllisonNY | February 23, 2007 4:36 PM

"Father of 4 is a former "bad boy" who is an alcoholic, a sexist jerk, and a really bad father."

I like to think of myself as right smack dab in the middle, like I make and set the common standard of measure. If you are doing better than Fo4, good, you're doing OK.

If you are doing worse than Fo4, oh boy, you definately need some help.

And, YetAnotherSahm, a dry sense of humor? Maybe I should try to water it down a bit and wetten it up a little. You think?

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 23, 2007 4:36 PM

Dear Kate,

In respnose to your posting that attempted to relate what I pay in taxes for state and local education to the quality of healthcare I receive and can expect to receive:
I already pay directly more than $10 thousand per year in helathcare expenses. That is quite enough, thank you.

As for the personnel I see in healthcare, most of the jobs below the level of physician and nurse-practitioner are filled by Latino and African immigrants.

So much for your thesis oflinking education and healthcare.

As I wrote Some Guy, I think that some portion of my taxes should go to fund state and local education. I think that 33% is a good figure. Why should more than half my taxes go to fund something from which I receive no direct enefit.

And, before you or anyone else belabors the indirect benefits, let's see some quantification. What is the incremental indirect benefit that I see in dollars and cents, between having 33% and 52% of my tax dollars go to primary and secondary education?

Supporting education is well and good, but I have no obligation to provide then children of my county with the educational equivalent of a Mercedes Benz when the educational equivalent of a Chevy should be good enough.

If you wnat to upgarde your children's primary and secondary education from a Chevy to a mercedes, YOU pay for it.

Unless, of course, you parents pitch in to buy me a new E class every 10 years.

Posted by: Mister Methane | February 23, 2007 4:38 PM

Fo4:
Don't tone down humor - if you do we won't know where you are on an issue (insert smile here). Maybe you could give us a wink when you go over to the other side?
(wink)

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 4:38 PM

"If you are doing worse than Fo4, oh boy, you definately need some help"

Hey fo4 - consider it a public service and adopt my motto - Fo4 keeping the bar low for everyone!

Posted by: moxiemom | February 23, 2007 4:39 PM

"That is to say, good education happens at many institutions that don't have name recognition."

Sure it does, but just to bring this on home. . . .

Most firms have hiring criteria that includes a minimum grade average. The most prestigious schools' placement offices are able to say to those firms, if you want to come on our campus and interview, you are not permitted to see GPAs or use them to determine who will be interviewed. Lower-ranked schools are damn grateful when any employer comes on campus and the employer can refuse to speak with anyone below the top 5%.

While you can obtain a good education at many, many schools, attending the most prestigious schools guarantees both greater access to hiring personnel for summer and permanent jobs, and greater opportunity for admission to other institutions' graduate and professional programs.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 23, 2007 4:41 PM

Ever considered that it might not just be meant to be? I bet the sex life would improve if it wasn't all about YOU wanting conceive.

Posted by: to Chrissy | February 23, 2007 4:43 PM

"Education is great, but if everyone is cloistered in the ivory towers, who is mowing the grounds, emptying the trash, repairing cars, and delivering much-needed pizzas?"
I don't care as long as it is not my kid.

Maybe it IS your kid when he's working to help pay for college.

Posted by: To AllisonNy | February 23, 2007 4:43 PM

The knee jerk reaction is right. We OWE our kids the best education we can give them. If that is through high school than so be it. If you are one of the lucky ones to have parents pay for all of your school then fantastic. What kind of question is this? Parents who don't think they OWE everything to their kids they can give them shouldn't have been parents in the first place.

Posted by: jvd | February 23, 2007 4:44 PM

NC lawyer,
Can I play devil's advocate for a minute? I believe what you say about the difference in prestigious schools vs the "regular" ones. Do you think that the pressure to be admitted to these schools and the subsequent years of learning is worth it for some kids? Do they then feel that because their parents paid (fill in the blank) dollars that they are forced into a career/job that does not suit them? Is it easier for someone like Fred (no insult intended just for the fact that you talk about your CSS education)to say "gee, this being a lawyer stuff isn't all it is cracked up to be - I think I would like to be a turf farmer"?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 4:47 PM

Ever considered that it might not just be meant to be? I bet the sex life would improve if it wasn't all about YOU wanting conceive.

Posted by: to Chrissy | February 23, 2007 04:43 PM

Troll Alert!! Troll Alert!!

The Know-It-All continues to share her omniscience with us all.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 4:49 PM

The faculties are busy getting published and researching....... It is an education we are after, is it not?

Where do you think new knowledge comes from?

Posted by: To CMAC | February 23, 2007 04:28 PM

Great topic for debate, new vs old knowledge. Depends on the subject being taught and researched. Not all research is worthy of the paper it is printed on. If you think that every college professor is establishing new frontiers in their subject matter - and passing this wisdom directly to their students - why even have occupations? Hey everyone - the professors have all the answers! Just apply them directly - no need to work in privately funded research in science or law, or build businesses or provide services - just ask the professors!

It is called the "academia bubble." Not all college professors are afflicted with it, so it is not an across the board condemnation - but it exists and contributes to the high cost of education.

Posted by: cmac | February 23, 2007 4:50 PM

"I received a GREAT education at a small not well known school, with a 3.93 overall GPA and a 4.0 in my major.
I couldn't get an interview w/ the big firms to save my life. They only recruit at the "name" schools."

I had the same issue, so I started with a smaller firm, worked my way up and then got hired by a bigger company. But I don't have any student loan debt - the last 2 years of college cost a grand total of $5,000 after grant money at an in-state school which I was able to pay on my own through savings and working. I am grateful I had no debt and also for great experience I gained from working for a smaller firm. You really have on opportunity to get involved with everything that way.

Posted by: AllisonNY | February 23, 2007 4:53 PM

mister methane,
since you're arguing over how much of your taxes should go to education, it seems you're conceding the central point: namely that paying some money towards education is part of buying into a social contract. It's one of numerous things our taxes go to that might or might not benefit us directly, but contribute to the betterment of our society as a whole. So asking whether 50% or 33% of your tax money should go towards education is essentially an economics question, not a philosophical one: What's the most cost effective way to spend finite tax revenue? I don't pretend to know whether the answer for education spending is closer to 50 or 33 or 70 or 10 percent, but in order to make a guess I'd need a lot of data.

Posted by: sasha | February 23, 2007 4:54 PM

KB said what needs to be said about the "work your way through" discussion. Up to 15 (maybe 20) hours of work a week is fine while in college. More than that means that all you will end up with, if you actually finish, is a transcript -- not an education. I recently got a degree in the physical sciences, and there is no way you can get the background you need in that kind of field while both working and going to school full-time. And how much can the average college student make while working 20 hours a week? Not enough to live on, certainly not enough to pay tuition, fees, books etc., even at a state school.

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | February 23, 2007 4:55 PM

If money is not an issue, how far should you go to educate your children?

What if your child earns a degree in a particular area, gets a job, and then realizes that it isn't really what they want to do? Should the parent then pay for education in a different field?

I met someone who worked in a radiology center. She got a degree in teaching and worked for a few years before burning out. She then had to go to school for an additional 18 months to be certified in the radiology position. She said that it is normally a 4-year program, but it is only 18 months for those who already have a 4-year degree.

How do you feel about the parents paying for the additional education? Would the answer be different if the 18-month program was immediately after the 4-year program rather than after several years of work?

What if your child drops out after a year or two, then wants to return 5 years later?

I'm just curious, especially to hear from the people who feel that it is absolutely the parents responsiblity to pay for the child's education.

Posted by: anon | February 23, 2007 5:01 PM

Sasha,

You correctly understand that I think primary and secondary education is a community obligation. However, your characterization of the difficulty of obtaining good metrics does not undercut my point.

The minority who benefit from funding that all have to pay have no incentive to efficiently use that money. Indeed, for those who benefit, the incentive is to continually ask for more money. This is particularly true when the result is recognized to be a common good. In such instances, no amount of money is enough.

One of the core functions of public policy is to attempt to allocate finite resources agsint insatiable demands of different constrtuencies.

For example, many commuters in Northern Virginia might tell you that they think 50% of their tax dollar should go towards alleviating transportation problems. Efficient public transportation is a common good. So what percentage of tax dolalrs shold go twards funding transportation projects?

To put it simply, I am entitled to push back against those who think they are entitled to use more than half of my state and local tax dollars to fund projects from which I see no direct benefit. I would see greater benefit from having the state and county spend more money on better land use planning, more and better roads, extension of mass transit, and expansion of walkways and bikeways.

Or, to put it another way, I think that approximately $12K per yer per pupil is overspending.

Posted by: Mister Methane | February 23, 2007 5:04 PM

"This is all well and good, but why should anyone expect me to agree that more than half of my state and local taxes should be spent on services from which I obtain an ill-defined secondary benefit that cannot be quantified in any socio-economic metric of which I am aware?"

See http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=cache:31mQKdkLoEcJ:www1.elsevier.com/hes/books/09/01/013/0901013.htm+author:%22Schultz%22+intitle:%22Education+Investments+and+Returns%22+
for a discussion of educational return on investment [From Handbook of Development Economics].

While social scientists are perpetually trying to distinguish between causation and correlation, it is clear that higher income / more educated individuals are willing to 'bid up' the value of education based on perceived societal return on investment.

Posted by: A Dad | February 23, 2007 5:04 PM

Mister Methane - as a parent I do contribute more to the schools, than a person with identical income & taxable property. How - the supplies I send with my child (did you know in elementary school that each student brings in kleenex, hand sanitizer, etc each year). The PTA's fundraisers sponsor field trips and I pay a fee as well, the band uniform is paid for by the parent, the required PE uniform is paid for the parent (though I imagine there is some program for those who really can't afford it), the supplies for projects, the volunteer time doing yard clean up, copying etc. So yes your & my tax dollars pay for most of the basics, but the extras are paid for by me and other parents or foundations, etc. This is the other reason that the quality of public schools varies with the economic area where the school is located (another whole political discussion)

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | February 23, 2007 5:06 PM

We owe our kids everything good we had plus whatever good we didn't have access to. Is that not why we have kids? it is unbelievable to me that the law was even cited in a case like this. It isn't the law to have a kid, but people have them anyway.

Posted by: Maria | February 23, 2007 5:13 PM

"To put it simply, I am entitled to push back against those who think they are entitled to use more than half of my state and local tax dollars to fund projects from which I see no direct benefit. I would see greater benefit from having the state and county spend more money on better land use planning, more and better roads, extension of mass transit, and expansion of walkways and bikeways."

If you are a homeowner, then you are probably overstating that you see no direct benefit. I live in Howard County MD -- if my home were in the best district in this county it would be worth approximately $200K more and the risk in property value would be less. If my home were in PG County it would be worth $200K with significant more risk on property value over time. The stability of your home value over time is closely linked to the perceived quality of the schools in your area -- and you receive a direct benefit from that as a homeowner.

Posted by: A Dad | February 23, 2007 5:14 PM

Dear A Dad,

In the URL you reference, please read Section 1.2: Problems: Conceptual and empirical.

That section discusses the conundrum of trying to tease out cause from effect in attempting to measure the indirect benefits of community expenditures on education.

Posted by: Mister Methane | February 23, 2007 5:15 PM

The right to a quality public education is every person's basic human right. Public education is fundamental to a democratic, civil, prosperous society. www.PublicEducation.org

Posted by: Public Education Network | February 23, 2007 5:15 PM

I think sometimes people get very upset when someone with a disability is better than they are at something important to them. Father of 4 is a great writer and I bet it just eats up the anonymous poster that someone with a disability is a better writer than he is. Or maybe it is the fact that Fo4 is a better parent-- or better with humor. Everyone has their weakness, and some people let their jeolousies get the better of them. Sad, isn' it?

On to the subject at hand-- community colleges and trade schools are the bomb! YEs, we really saving big bucks for our child, but we will certainly point out that you can go to community college for two years, then transfer to a four year school and NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW OR CARE. My degree from Stanford doesn't have an astrix next to it indicating that I went to community college first because I didn't want to take out huge loans or burden my parents. since my toddlers plans for his future career are "to be a firefighter and a backhoe" maybe the money we are saving for college will end up with the next kid-- or we will use to go back to school in our retirement!

Posted by: Lauren | February 23, 2007 5:16 PM

What do you consider to be the best district in Howard County?

Posted by: to a dad | February 23, 2007 5:16 PM

Dear A Dad,

There are many factors that figure into the value of real estate location. It is not correct to imply that the quality of the school system is the principal driving factor. If that were the case, I would have been better able to afford housing in Arlington than in Fairfax, which is acknowledged to have an elite school system. In reality, I cannot afford housing in Arlington.

Facts often get in the way of hypotheses.

Posted by: Mister Methane | February 23, 2007 5:18 PM

what I meant to write is that we are currently saving big bucks up for "college".My parents saved nothing for me. WE've already got $30k in the special tax exempt accounts.

Posted by: Lauren | February 23, 2007 5:19 PM

Fred never wanted to be a lawyer.

Posted by: Fred | February 23, 2007 5:19 PM


I should perhaps clarify, that just because I feel students' for-pay work should be limited to 15 hours/week during term, and summer jobs (though an opportunity to intern for no-to-low-pay or to do a summer abroad program instead during one summer can also be very worthwhile) . . . this doesn't mean that I feel that all parents owe their kids financial support for all of their remaining costs. I think there's a great difference between parents of limited means, who contribute what they can, but can't afford much, and parents who can well afford to contribute, but refuse to pay even their share as assessed by financial aid, at an institution which is a reasonable match to their child's aptitudes and goals.

After all, children of parents with little expected financial contribution have additional options. Harvard and other elites have been upping the ante on need-based aid, to where now any student of parents making less than 70K family income (though it varies by college) gets full aid, tuition plus expenses guaranteed --- at many schools all in grants and work-study, or all but a token amount, like $2000/year, in grants and work-study (in fact funding financial aid is a very large portion of the expense at such institutions).

Students whose parents don't meet their need assessment, instead, must come up with the difference themselves, through loans or working *beyond* the constructive work-study type limits of 10-15 hours/week. Their parents may have their own fond memories of their own self-made educations, but if they truly had parents of limited means, far less boot-strapping was expected of them, than they are subjecting their children to. It can be a question either of rationalization --- especially when divorce and escaping financial commitments to a first family are involved, or who knows, maybe after those angst-ridden teen years have taken their toll in parental goodwill --- or of elevating a rosy ideological maxim above the actual, today's-world, lived experience of one's child.

Posted by: KB | February 23, 2007 5:20 PM

Recently published data indicate that the ONE significant positive correlation with people who have the best health in our society -- irrespective of earning power or inherited money, or any of a multitude of other factors -- is level of education. This is a powerful argument for more education benefitting ALL of society, including Methane, not just those getting the education.

Posted by: catlady | February 23, 2007 5:20 PM

"My degree from Stanford doesn't have an astrix next to it indicating that I went to community college first because I didn't want to take out huge loans or burden my parents."

2 years at Stanford didn't teach you that the word is "asterisk"?

Posted by: Lauren | February 23, 2007 5:21 PM

Fred, you KNOW what I mean :-)

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 5:21 PM

astrix

Were you in the Stanford Band? ROFLMAO!

Go Bears!!!!!

Posted by: To Lauren | February 23, 2007 5:23 PM

Dear Divorced Mom,
Your observation about the quality of education in a jurisdiction varying with income is a good point, and is the reason why over the past 15 years that poor school districts have successfully sued states to allocate more state income to the poor school districts to help bring the per pupil expenditure closer to the level of rich jurisdictions, such in NoVA.

As for your paying more, I am well aware of that. However, you have made that choice. My parents made the choice of paying paying to send me to parochial school, and forfeiting any public education benefits. Parents all makes choices, starting with the choice to become a parent.

Or, to put the question on a practical level, exactly WHAT educational services constitute the basics? For example, are AP courses considered to be basic services? I think not.

Posted by: Mister Methane | February 23, 2007 5:24 PM

Catmommy - If you live in NoVA I can let you know when/where our booth sales are going to be! There's no excuse for not stocking up on cookies! :)

"Off topic question - I just found out from my neighbor's dd that the profit from the sales of their Girl Scout cookies is being used to pay for a party for the scouts. Am I the only one who was under the impression that the money went for other stuff like scouts that couldn't afford uniforms or to give money to a shelter? Is this troop an anomoly? Is it up to each troop? Seems like a lot of effort and time to pay for a super fun party for girls who already have a lot. I'm a little surprised that I never thought to ask this before."

The troop makes .60 cents per box of cookies that they sell. Financial assistance is made available to every girl, no questions asked. That is mostly funded by our annual SHARE campaign. (Although it's the wealthier families in my troop who never contribute to this!)

With the cookie sale we sell and collect boxes of cookies for our "Gift of Caring" that we donate to someone in need. Last year we sent cookies to the US soldiers in Iraq (no chocolate ones though, bummer). This year we are collecting boxes of cookies to donate to Food For Others. The girls in my troop always get to decide who to give our Gift of Caring to and what to do with our troop's profit from the cookie sale. It gives them a strong sense of pride to earn a reward that they choose and help others in need at the same time. It's all about teaching them leadership skills!

I know one leader who does not ever give her girls a choice about these things (even though she is supposed to) and I feel sorry for the girls in her troop!

Posted by: GS Leader | February 23, 2007 5:26 PM

Dear catlady,

Assuming your cited correlation can be takin for casusation, exactly HOW MUCH of finite state and county budgets should be spent on education?

I doubt that the relationship you suggest between health and level of education curves upward without limit.

Posted by: Mister Methane | February 23, 2007 5:26 PM

Here's another idea that will probably be anathema to most of the parents out there:

I can abode seeing 52+% of my state and local tax dollars gonig to education IF all high school graduates put in 2 years of community service to the city, county or state that educated them after they graduate.

No exceptions for the privileged who go to private schools.

Everybody serves.

Posted by: Mister Methane | February 23, 2007 5:29 PM

"There are many factors that figure into the value of real estate location."

Yes -- of course [location, location, location]. But examine intra-county cases where the other services / taxes [and location] are equivalent. In every country in which I am aware [certainly all of MD], the perceived quality of the specific schools has tremendous impact on property values.

With respect to section 1.2 -- yes -- I saw that -- I'm in general agreement with your point on the difficulty.

Posted by: A Dad | February 23, 2007 5:30 PM

I'm still reading through all the comments from earlier in the day, but I wanted to be sure and make my contribution before this chat ends.

I grew up with parents who valued and promoted education, but whose own financial burdens didn't allow them to contribute to my college education. That said, I worked through college and grad school to pay my personal expenses, took out student loans for tuition and rent, and ended up earning a BA, MA and most recently a PhD. Sure, I have educational debt but I feel like it was a great investment on my part and I'm proud to have done it myself. I made my choices of schools based on both academic creds and on economics and don't have a single regret.

My husband and I are saving for our daughter's college education, but I don't feel like we owe it to her to cover all of her expenses at the 4 year college of her choice. When the time comes, we'll put up what we can and she can choose to cover the rest with loans or scholarships.

Posted by: Petworth Mom | February 23, 2007 5:31 PM

Obviously, you could use a bit more education, the word is spelled "going".

Posted by: to Mister Methane | February 23, 2007 5:32 PM

Mister Methane - don't you mean you can "abide" not abode?

Posted by: DC lurker | February 23, 2007 5:33 PM

Nor did I want to be a turf farmer.

Posted by: Fred | February 23, 2007 5:34 PM

"and parents who can well afford to contribute, but refuse to pay even their share as assessed by financial aid,"

FAFSA determined that we can afford 20% of our pretax income of $95K. We have no savings outside of retirement savings, my husband is near retirement age (we had children late), and we have a younger child still at home.

We have no savings because of misfortunes that befell our family that I won't go into here.

Please don't assume that the family share assessed by financial aid is affordable. We are not REFUSING to pay - it's not affordable to us.

Actually, we are going against recommended advice. We are cutting our retirement contributions and taking parent loans to pay for the school. When we retire, we will sell our house and move to a cheaper area of the country where we will need less retirement dollars.

Posted by: to kb | February 23, 2007 5:36 PM

Fred, are you picking on me? I am so sorry I used you as an example. I never meant to insult you.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 5:36 PM

KLB SS MD,

No, not picking but just in a puckish mood this p.m.

I was going to tell everyone about my hard upbringing. That I was out of the house at 17, never to return, that I put myself thru school by odd jobs, the oddest being shelving books in the library, but we have already read enough Horatio Algiers stories today.

So Love and Kisses to everyone this p.m.

Posted by: Fred | February 23, 2007 5:41 PM

Fred, sorry, hit send by mistake when phone rang. I think you would make an awesome turf farmer. :-)

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 5:41 PM

Fred, you are certainly allowed to be puckish (isn't that a term relating to Dickens?). I have a great idea for a new blog - who can tell the biggest sob story. I walked uphill in the snow barefoot blahblahblah.
I never had an offer of going to college on the family dime - I joined the army instead.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 5:44 PM

But I do appreciate turf farmers. My misfortunes of August 2005 caused me to buy a new lawn. It is so green and pretty but not sage green!

Posted by: Fred | February 23, 2007 5:44 PM

Sage green grass would not look good at all. I think the foam sprayed seeds are kind of sagey green tho.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 5:45 PM

I vote a tie for Fred and Fo4 for the biggest misfortunes.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 5:45 PM

It isn't where you came from that is so important - it is where you are headed.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 5:46 PM

DC Lurker,

Thanks for catching one of my many typing errors. The letters I and O are next to each other on the keyboard.

Since abode is a word, it can't be called a typo. A sematic-o?

Posted by: Mister Methane | February 23, 2007 5:47 PM

Puck was from Shakespeare's "A Midnight Summer's Dream." Learned that in my private high school that I attended.

Posted by: Fred | February 23, 2007 5:47 PM

I meant Shakespeare! Must be the dain bramage after vacation. Thanks for correcting me (do I get some points for at least knowing that there was some literary aspect of the term?)

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 5:49 PM

"I vote a tie for Fred and Fo4 for the biggest misfortunes."

I have not told half the story but you know what, I do not take it too seriously.

Posted by: Fred | February 23, 2007 5:50 PM

On a lighter note, I get my dog back tomorrow. He has been gone for two weeks and I have missed the mutt.

Posted by: KKLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 5:51 PM

"A Surprising Secret to a Long Life: Stay in School," by Gina Kolata:


James Smith, a health economist at the RAND Corporation, has heard a variety of hypotheses about what it takes to live a long life -- money, lack of stress, a loving family, lots of friends. But he has been a skeptic.

Yes, he says, it is clear that on average some groups in every society live longer than others. The rich live longer than the poor, whites live longer than blacks in the United States. Longevity, in general, is not evenly distributed in the population. But what, he asks, is cause and what is effect? And how can they be disentangled?

He is venturing, of course, into one of the prevailing mysteries of aging, the persistent differences seen in the life spans of large groups. In every country, there is an average life span for the nation as a whole and there are average life spans for different subsets, based on race, geography, education and even churchgoing.

But the questions for researchers like Dr. Smith are why? And what really matters?

The answers, he and others say, have been a surprise. The one social factor that researchers agree is consistently linked to longer lives in every country where it has been studied is education. It is more important than race; it obliterates any effects of income.

Year after year, in study after study, says Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, education "keeps coming up." ...

(You can still access the entire article via Google or LexisNexis -- happy reading, Methane!)

Posted by: catlady | February 23, 2007 5:52 PM

URL is http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/03/health/03aging.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5088&en=b8ffe64abf1b1466&ex=1325480400&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

Posted by: catlady | February 23, 2007 5:53 PM

Sunny and 71 degrees right now. It was a beautiful day in N.O. today.

Posted by: Fred | February 23, 2007 5:54 PM

Catlady,
I don't have time to do the research but my question about the article you quote is it education sequentially or continuing throughout life? I have read many articles about keeping your brain active (crossword puzzles, etc) so wonder if this correlates with that or is it a different topic all together?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 5:54 PM

Fred - now that is just plain mean. You don't have to make everyone suffer just because I picked on you!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 5:55 PM

OK - my turn to be mean. Out for mojitos and cuban food for dinner. Toodles.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 5:58 PM

What kind of beer with it?

Posted by: Fred | February 23, 2007 5:58 PM

Mojito is a cuban drink made with rum, sugar and mint.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 6:00 PM

Clearly, most of you people have never visited a country in which education is not compulsory. If you'd ever seen what happens in countries where children can only go to school if their parents can pay, you'd understand why a public school education, even a bad one, is preferrable to no education at all. You end up with generations of citizens who can't read or write or contribute to the health of the nation, and who ultimately become a gigantic financial drain on the system. It's not just because of the massive financial aid they require, but because the lack of basic education and marketable skills leaves them with almost no way to earn money except through begging or crime.

Americans are truly blessed to live in a country that requires by law that our children receive some kind of an education. We live in an excellent school district. It costs much more than we'd really like to pay to live here, but for the quality of the education our son is getting, it's well worth it. We owe him the best possible education we can give him because we love him. But we also do it because we love our country and we want him to contribute to the growth and health of the nation, not be a drain on its resources. If you ever want to see an end to entitlement programs and welfare, we have to start expecting and demanding those great schools for all American children, not just those who live in the right neighborhoods.

Posted by: G. Fields | February 23, 2007 6:01 PM

BTW - Kalik (bahamian beer) is pretty good.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 6:02 PM

KLB SS MD, Good question!

I don't have time to re-read the entire article right now, either (it's just before dinnertime), but it does state later on that "it might be expected that after a certain point, more years of school would not add to a person's life span. That, however, is not what the data shows. The education effect never wanes." Not quite what you asked, I realize, but I don't think the researcher necessarily tested for your hypothesis. Oh, where's foamgnome when we really need her?

BTW, I've read what you cited about X-word puzzles, especially WRT delaying onset of senility. But, I must confess I still might do X-word puzzles even if they were proven BAD for me ;-)

Posted by: catlady | February 23, 2007 6:05 PM

Catlady,

I read the article. How does it relate to my arguments?

The article correlates years of compulsory education to level of health. I have no problem with mandating that every child complete K-12.

But why should I pay half my state and local taxes to increase the quality of K-12 beyond a certain level?

Your article and your arguments fail to adress this question.

For example, per pupil expenditue in Southeast States for K-12 averages in the range of $7.8-8.5K per year. Why should I fund a local education system having per pupil expenditures of around $12K per year? Years of education are equal, hence, according to your cited thesis, health benefits should be equal, and the extra per pupil expenditures make no diofference in overall community health.

Indeed, if I were to extend your logic to its conclusion, I should demand that the state and county fund MY continuing postgraduate education, and not fund someone else's education.

Posted by: Mister Methane | February 23, 2007 6:09 PM

go put a match by your mouth

Posted by: to Mister Methane | February 23, 2007 6:11 PM

For the record, I did NOT write "go put a match by your mouth"

The article states, "And it might be expected that after a certain point, more years of school would not add to a person's life span. That, however, is not what the data shows."

This does not exclude higher education. E.g., studies have shown an inverse correlation between smoking and level of education, all the way up to the Ph.D. level.

Posted by: catlady | February 23, 2007 6:16 PM

Hi Dad,

I understand your argument, but the problem is controlling for all factors besides the perceived level of quality in the schools.
I agree wtih you that the quality of local schools adds some value to real estate, but I disagree with your implied thesis that a school system adds measurable, significant value apart apart from other confounding location factors.

Many years ago, in a previous career life, I was given the task of attempting to formulate a model for ascertaining the value of real estate location without having to resort to appraisal. Couldn't come up with any model taht didn't rely on some appraisal baseline, which in effect made any model superfluous.

And, to move to a meta level, how does one measure the value of local schools? Test scores? Word of mouth? I can't tease out any factors that aren't confounded by the perceptions of parents living in the school district.

Or, as a real estate agent would put it, it's all in the perceived market value.

Now, how do we measure the incremental value of increased education expenditures agasinst perceived market value? Is there anything beyond a confounded relationship?

Posted by: Mister Methane | February 23, 2007 6:17 PM

LongBeach at 12:38 mentioned that people owe their kids an education so that our economy doesn't end up like that of the Former Soviet Union. Actually, education was a great achievement of the Soviet Union. So many people were able to get PhDs, and many were educated as scientists, doctors, and engineers. I believe it was Kissinger who believed that one of the reasons the US would not win the cold war was because the Soviets would beat us due to this fact. We all know this did not happen.

An education is not a prerequisite to making a living or even being rich--yes, even in this day and age. I come from a blue collar immigrant background, and the richest people I know did not have degrees, but built businesses in the trades or real estate. I am a nuclear engineer and my sister is a lawyer (we both went to college on academic scholarships, and used savings after working for several years or got our employers to kick in for graduate school). While we do well, those in the family who didn't go to college are either doing just as well, or are in fact, more successful. None of us had any connections--our families came to this country with nothing--we had to make them on our own and blaze our own trails. I truly believe that work ethic and respect for the value of all work (including education) is what we owe kids today. That is not necessarily something that they would learn by having job--it is by letting them know at an early age that what they have comes from work, and that they will have to do that someday as well. There are few shortcuts, especially for the lower and middle classes.

It makes me sad that people think college is the only way for people to become educated, in the liberal (rather than "get a job") sense. People should be reading and learning new things anyway. You don't need a university to do this, just libraries, which ARE free and really underutilized.

Posted by: somebody | February 23, 2007 6:17 PM

Catlady,

Een admitting the thesis,
HOW MUCH should WHO spend on what level of education?

What is the optimal level of expendigture that benefits society? Since resources are finite, at some level the overall benefit declines, becuase resources are diverted from other services.

Are you contending that society should fund 100% of all education, through to postgraduate?

If so, WHY?

As to the match to the mouth, I note that it was posted someone who wishes to remain anon. No problem. Anon has realized the humor implied in my name.

Or, as I sometimes tell my friends: It's flatulent Friday! Light 'em if you got 'em.

Posted by: Mister Methane | February 23, 2007 6:22 PM

Anon has realized the humor implied in my name.

Yea, I did!

Posted by: to Mister Methane | February 23, 2007 6:26 PM

As a nation, we don't take education as seriously as we should. Our schools have outdated textbooks and facilities. Teachers receive low salaries and usually end up paying for class materials out of their own pocket. The content that is covered in public school curricula is barely adequate compared to public education in other developed counties. And yet despite these problems, the government continues to cut funding for education, pass abominations like the No Child Left Behind Act, and generally ignores these glaring issues. Stop worrying about individual decisons, and start worrying about how we will continue to be competitive in science, business, and medicine if this is the best we can do for children.

Posted by: Tirade | February 23, 2007 6:37 PM

"Now, how do we measure the incremental value of increased education expenditures agasinst perceived market value? Is there anything beyond a confounded relationship?"

No -- which is why I enjoy the physical sciences so much more than the social sciences [where the plural of 'anecdote' is too often 'data'].

The standard response to determining the optimal education funding level [or, more accurately as you have noted the optimal percentage of public funds to expend on education] would be to allow communities to experiment. Currently, the areas that expend the highest amount per pupil tend to be those with the highest incomes -- though causation versus correlation is difficult to determine.

You might also enjoy http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/51/20/37392850.pdf

it makes a general assumption that an increase in 1-year of average education for a population translates into a 3%-6% growth in GDP [again, your social science answer may vary...]

Posted by: A Dad | February 23, 2007 6:45 PM


to to kb,

You might find that private colleges are more generous than FAFSA about taking into account impending retirement when assessing expected contributions. I've read that this is a sensitive spot in financial need assessment. Also, even at a 95K family income, private colleges are sensitive to the high burden and try to defray it. I would not foreclose options without exploring them. I was reacting more to those who just walk away entirely (and really, my experience is that it's often after acrimonious divorces, or parents whose focus has otherwise moved on from their college-age children), and rationalize their walking away by claiming it will not hurt, but *help* their kids, building character by making them pick up huge costs themselves.

Though at comparable income levels, we paid that much yearly for childcare for many years . . . A problem with FAFSA is it doesn't really account for regional and age differences in cost-of-living (we are in a cheaper region than DC). College financial aid offices may be receptive to details that explain why FAFSA assessments are unrealistic for special situations . . .

Our main plan -- aside from living in a state with free public school tuition for in-state students maintaining a B average, and having a free tuition benefit at the more competitive colleges we teach at --- is to have bought our house on a 15-year mortgage 1 year before our oldest was born, so we're accustomed to the cash outflow and can redirect it toward college/college saving when the time comes, if needed (we actually both went to college on merit-based scholarships, though unless you reside in particular states these can be far rarer than top percentile to luck into --- I'm a little curious about all those parents counting on merit scholarships for their kids). I understand many areas are too high in real estate values, or many parents too burdened with their own education debt, to do this, to pay off a house before kids reach college and then redirect the cashflow. Is your home equity a resource you could redirect? or are parental college loans more affordable?

I hope things work out for your family, that you and your child find and have time to fully experience a well-suited college.
I know my own college choice in face of family financial difficulties was extremely stressful until a scholarship to a school I loved materialized, in the end.


to kb wrote:

>FAFSA determined that we can afford 20% of >our pretax income of $95K. We have no >savings outside of retirement savings, my >husband is near retirement age (we had >children late), and we have a younger >child still at home.
>
>We have no savings because of misfortunes >that befell our family that I won't go >into here.
>
>Please don't assume that the family share >assessed by financial aid is affordable. >We are not REFUSING to pay - it's not >affordable to us.

Posted by: KB | February 23, 2007 6:51 PM

These are some really great stories of personal struggle and perseverance!

I will also serve as the non-snarky childless poster and state: we owe education to children and to society as a whole (at least IMHO). People are stupid enough as it is...let's not make it worse. My misgivings about my tax dollars being used for eduction is the frequent feeling I get that funds are not being used wisely..but that's a problem with lots of things.

I'm always a little taken aback by those that insist that you MUST, MUST have a college degree in the US to be sucessful. Let me give you a cautionary tale: I earned a BS degree in Social Work in 1985. I worked in 3 different states in agencies that provided voc services to DD adults. I went from direct services, to mid management, to being the right hand of the Associate Director of a fairly large agency in 10 years.

I WAS MAKING HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE WAGES AFTER 10 YEARS.

Sorry for the caps, but that must be shouted from the mountaintops.

Please, please don't let your babies grow up to be Social Workers (unless, of course, you want chronically broke adult children you have to lend money to all the time). You might as well save your money!

Posted by: ALP | February 23, 2007 7:07 PM

Fredia also has a college degree and makes less than a person working at Taco Bell. She is also expected to maintain liability insurance and professional certifications. So, if you want to make some money, do not work for your respective state health department.

(I must say that I do not miss the French Fry hair!)

Posted by: Fred | February 23, 2007 7:30 PM

"HOW MUCH should WHO spend on what level of education?"

This is pretty much a self-limiting situation, because a good many people's higher education (especially at the post-graduate level) is paid for by their employers.

Also, I've long since lost count of how many doctors and dentists I've met whose first-professional tuition was covered by one or another branches of the military, in return for several years of service.

Besides, the academic difficulty of post-graduate work tends to eliminate potential candidates who are inadequately prepared or otherwise unqualified.

So Methane needn't worry.

Posted by: catlady | February 23, 2007 8:02 PM

Fred,
But you could live vicariously thru her hair!
You also don't make alot of money in the military or working for the govt but we sure do have job security :-)

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 23, 2007 9:00 PM

Our expected family contribution is higher than the total cost of attendance at the CSS she attends which is actually a great school. The total cost of attendance includes tuition, room, board, fees, transportation expenses, and personal expenses.

She was also accepted at a private university and was offered a grant of $9000 or $10000, but no merit scholarships. Even with the grant, the total cost of attendance at the private university, while more than the cost of the CSS, was still within our expected family contribution.

After some time in the CSS, she went to the financial aid office and was basically told that there was nothing special to warrant any scholarship or grants. She is from a middle-class family so doesn't qualify for need-based, her grades are not outstanding so no merit-based, she is not a minority, she is not an outstanding athlete or musician or artist.

While there are a tremendous amount of scholarships available, not every student qualifies and there is a lot of competition.

In retrospect, I would have done a few things differently. First, I would have encouraged her to take honors classes rather than G/T. I believe she would have had a GPA 3.5 or better rather than the 2.9 she earned that disqualifed her for any merit-based scholarship requiring a 3.0 or higher. She would also have been quite a bit higher in class rank. I was shocked to discover that a 2.9 GPA in a school full of "top performers" would land you in the bottom 20% of your graduating class.

We have advised my younger daughter to select her high school courses based on the highest level for which she can easily receive an A or B. I always believed that challenging yourself meant taking any class in which you were interested and giving it your best shot. However, there is no reward if you try and fail. So sadly, I want my younger daughter to "go for the grades" rather than challenging herself and stretching to learn more. It seems that the higher GPA will open doors to more colleges and also to more merit-based aid to be able to afford the colleges.

Posted by: to KB | February 23, 2007 9:06 PM

Baby's accused killer faces new charge
Saturday, February 24, 2007
By Gabrielle Banks, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07055/764682-56.stm

New charges yesterday indicate authorities believe a Braddock father sexually assaulted his 23-month-old child before abandoning her outside to die in the cold early Feb. 3.

William Page is accused of leaving the toddler in an abandoned playground in Rankin. Nyia Page was wrapped in a blanket and wearing a knit top but was undressed from the waist down in 8-degree weather. Officials found the child's body after a day of searching.

At a preliminary hearing yesterday, Allegheny County homicide Detective Robert Opferman testified that Mr. Page confessed that he became angry with Nyia because she kept taking off her diaper. Although Mr. Page initially said he backhanded her, Detective Opferman said Mr. Page later said in a tape-recorded statement that he kicked her between the legs, while wearing Timberland boots, and then put his hand "in there" to stop the bleeding.

He then took her outside, still crying, intending to put her in a sewer, the detective said. Instead, Mr. Page left her on the ground in an old playground less than a mile from the house.

Later that morning, Mr. Page's 6-year-old stepson awakened the adults in the house, saying his baby sister was missing.

Nyia's body was discovered a short distance from the blanket.

James Ecker, Mr. Page's lawyer, said his client repeatedly asked for a lawyer during the police interrogation and was not provided one.

"As far as I know they kept questioning him after that," Mr. Ecker said. "He said from the beginning he was not guilty. He suggested to the police two people he thought could have done it."

His client entered a plea of not guilty on charges of homicide, kidnapping, aggravated indecent assault, aggravated assault and making false reports to police.

Following the detective's testimony, District Judge Scott Schricker held Mr. Page for trial on all charges.

The indecent assault count is new. The simple assault charge was enhanced to an aggravated assault because of Mr. Page's confession about kicking the child.

In a separate case, Mr. Page was charged with groping a 6-year-old boy's genitals the night before Nyia disappeared. A preliminary hearing on that matter is scheduled for Wednesday at 1 p.m. before Rankin District Justice Ross C. Cioppa. Mr. Page faces four counts, including simple assault, indecent assault and corruption of a minor.

Posted by: In da 'Burgh | February 24, 2007 8:41 AM

Sorry, I am coming to this discussion late. I don't have time to read all the 300+ comments. But I would like to add that I think parents owe it to their children to have a college plan. That doesn't mean funding 4 years of animal house partying or even a full 4 years of state college. It means realizing that a college degree is still the safest route to the middle class. You can all go on about how you put yourself through school, or grandpa so and so only had a fourth grade education. Times are changing and whether the actual piece a paper guarantees you can think or not, it is still important. For me personally, we plan on saving 50% in DDs educational fund and when she is actually attending, we will pay out the other 50%. We plan on doing this because we are paying down our mortgage fast and it will be paid off by the time she starts college. That is no small feat in this housing market. We also contribute generously to our retirement. But that being said, even as well paid professionals at mid level career jobs, we can only fully fund at most 2 kids. With the high cost of an education, high day care, retirement savings, that is all we can do. Some will argue that #3 was never born because we were planning to pay for our kids undergraduate. That is really silly because #3 would not have occurred anyway. It just happens to work with our college plans. But when I was pregnant, I spoke to a financial planner. His suggestion was that for MIDDLE class people saving a 100% is really not reasonable by the time they go to college. If you want to have any sort of life, house, retirement etc... that is simply not reasonable. It is reasonable to put away a 1/3 as a parental contribution, expect your child to borrow or work during school for a 1/3 and the last 1/3 could come from scholarships, grant or work study or paying while the child attends school etc... We are slightly better off then middle class. We are more like the upper middle class. So we plan to pay 50%. That being said DD will have to pay for her own books with $ she earns over the summer. We will also let any child live rent free while paying off loans. They are on their own for graduate school. DH and I had loans (18K which included grad for me and 12K for DH). DH got his MBA paid through his employer and I was a graduate assistant. There are many options for funding graduate work. But with all of that, I don't think poor or lower middle class people should not have kids because of a college education. An education is a gift not a debt owed. I agree with Momof4 who said you tell your kids straight out and help them the best you can. No one should not have kid #4 because you want Suzie to go to Harvard. God golly, the ivy league isn't even a great financial pay off. If you can feed, educate K-12, clothe, provide medical care, and housing you have enough to have a kid. People don't owe their kids an education. It is a wonderful gift to give them a debt free education but by no means a law. The one thing that disturbs me is parents that can AFFORD it refusing to help at all. This sink or swim attitudes sucks. Unless your kid proves unworthy, then that is really awful. I just hope when they are older their kids refuse to help them. But more likely you see a lot of middle and upper middle class parents who can afford to help just not have a plan. They think the kid needs a $100 outfit or another American Girl doll but no savings. I think that is a real shame. It isn't that they love their kids less. They just are not responsible financially. I bet those same people do not have retirement plans either. That is a waste and I would like to see more in their way of savings. But you can't make people save and you can't make people care about their kids. One thing if you plan on not paying for your kids education, you should tell them that by middle school and you should still fill out the financial aid forms. Because the new law, they can't claim an independent on FA till 24. So by refusing to fill out the forms, you are robbing your kid of necessary aid or loans. And that IMO sucks.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 24, 2007 1:05 PM

One thing people are really neglecting in this argument is the value system of the child. My parents contributed what they can. Let me tell you that was 1K a year for four years. I went to an elite private college. I borrowed 10K, got a huge scholarship, and did work study. I also worked over summers. I went to grad on 8K loans and a teaching assistantship. But God bless my parents because that 1K a year represents more then the 25K/year we could pay for our daughter. And I appreciated that they worked hard and always believed in me. Not everyone is going to get an academic scholarship. I don't know about you but our daughter has already been identified with learning disabilities. For her to even go to a four year state school with all C's would be a blessing. And as long as she did her best, I would be there to support her. She will know all a long that we choose to live in a smaller house, drive older cars, not travel as much, buy clothes from Target and the sales rack of JcPennys. These are the choices we make all a long so there is adequate money for college, retirement and the best quality day care we could give her. On the other hand, SIL bought the big house, takes her kids (ages 3 and 18 months) to a billion lessons, spends on the most expensive clothes, eats out constantly, buys expensive Longaberger baskets but has ZERO dollars for college. Her attitude is they will need to borrow money or they are all going to be some sort of academic genius. Good luck on that one. Gymboree will not make your kid any smarter. It is about making good choices and teaching your child the sacrifices that you made to provide the best you can for them. I want DD to not be saddled with debt so that she and our grand child can live a better life. We live a good life and have nothing to complain about. But if we didn't have debt, maybe we could have had that two car garage or travelled more or whatever. I also want to help her have more choices. DH and I had no choice but to take good full time professional jobs that provided good salaries and retirement. What if DD wants to do something like be a teacher, who is vastly under paid? I would love her to have those choices. Or work at a nonprofit she feels passionate about. Not having loans will help her live a middle class life and do what she wants. Education is about having choices.It isn't just about making money. But more then anything, when I look at how much DD had to struggle just to accomplish what a typical three year old does, like talk if full sentences, I feel she has already paid her dues. I feel like if she can get the grades to go to college, I want to help her as much as I can. She is my daughter and I love her. Also about the FA and having to contribute 20% of your income as parental contribution. That is insane. The government is totally out of line for thinking that parents can give 20% of their yearly income for college. They should be ashamed of themselves when they waste tons of money in Iraq and this is what they tell our own people.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 25, 2007 4:38 PM

I'm way late here, so chances are no one will see this, but I really want to respond to a comment at the begginning about high school grads being doomed to fast food and jail.

I have a masters degree, my husband has a couple semesters of community college. He is an electrician and makes very good money. No one ever talks about the trades where one can make a respectable living in a job that can't be outsourced overseas. My software development job was outsourced to India 8 years ago. He gets job offeres weekly (and he isn't even looking).

We are in out early 30s, so you can't even argue that that was the old days.

Posted by: RT | February 26, 2007 8:21 AM

For all you folks who dredged up stories of how you or your parents/grandparents managed to succeed without a college or even high school diploma - TIMES HAVE CHANGED.

In our lovely, suburban neighborhood of 4- bedroom colonials, I see the results of various parenting style with regard to education.

Kids who attend college or have degrees also have current jobs and a future. Those who were told to move out at 18, or wanted to be on their own, are working low-paid jobs, unable to save any money, and are struggling to make good life decisions.

Almost every single kid has lived at home for a longish period after high school. The college students graduate with debt and can often not afford a car much less an apartment and utility bills just yet. In our high-rent, DC area, it's just nuts to let a kid spend most of his/her salary on rent when they could be saving for a condo.

I do not recommend anything less than a 4-year college degree, or equivalent trades training, before you toss your children out on their own. It's a big, fast world and they need the tools to manage.

Posted by: boomerette | February 26, 2007 9:29 AM

"If someone's "professional" degree (JD, MBA, PhD., etc) is being paid for with Daddy's money, then they are NOT ready to be a professional."

This comment does not make any sense. If parents can afford to help out their children with college and graduate school, without hindering them from saving for retirement, then I say "why not." I have a father who once said "I'll sell my home if I had to if it means helping you." That of course is not something I agree with but I know that what my father means is that he loves me and he would help me out any way he could. I am a responsible, professional adult. I don't take my parents for granted, and I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I work for the government but I am not paid enough to sustain the cost of living on my own. My parents and I bought a place together to help me start out as an independent woman struggling with a mental illness.... My point here is this: Everybody's situation is different. Parents are not ONLY obligated to provide for their children, but they should treat their child as an extension of themselves and therefore their children should be cared for and loved. Do unto others as you would want done to you. My parents struggled as immigrants to give me the best life possible and I'm struggling to live the best life I can under the circumstances that life has handed me. Without the help of my parents, their guidance, life lessons, and teaching me what it means to be a productive citizen and good human being I don't know where I'd be. Love and guidance are what we owe our children, and educating our children is part of the package. How else do we become "professionals?"

Posted by: Prof | February 26, 2007 1:05 PM

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