Yesterday, I shared on Get Rich Slowly about how Greg and I plan to pay for the majority of our children’s college education.  In case you don’t want to read the whole post, I’ll share the gist of here:

Basically, we’re saving small amounts monthly and lumping all of their birthday and Christmas money into their respective 529’s.  And sometimes we put a lump sum in at the end of the year to decrease our tax liability.  Beyond that, our plan is to have our two rental properties paid off in 12 years and use the monthly cash flow from those properties to finance their schooling.

Why I Plan to Pay For My Children’s College Education

To be honest, we don’t anticipate being able to pay for all of their schooling because, as we all know, plenty of things could happen between now and then.  On the other hand, we do plan to pay for at least half of their college education and hopefully more.  Here’s why:

We Brought Them Into This World

I don’t necessarily think that everyone who has kids should be expected to pay for their college education, but I do feel a personal obligation to do so.  Why?  Because I brought them into this world.  I made a conscious decision to procreate, and I only did so because I believed I could set them up for success.  Of course I can’t guarantee them that, but I don’t want to be the reason for their struggles either.

College Is Expensive

A college education is becoming a necessity in today’s modern workplace.  In fact, many experts say that an associate or bachelor’s degree is the “new high school diploma.”  I hope to steer my children toward a state school or community college, but those options still won’t be free.  Student loan debt is at an all-time high in this country- a cumulative $1 trillion dollars and growing each day.  I want to spare my children from at least some of that burden.

Because We Can

We would feel like enormous douche-bags if we didn’t have some sort of plan to help our children pay for part of their higher education.  Why?  Because we have plenty of money.  In fact, we make enough money that we will probably hurt our children’s chances of getting very much financial aid or help. And that’s another reason why it makes perfect sense for us to save for them.  Why should our kids suffer because their parents are relatively high earners?

Why Is This Controversial?

It seems like people turn into raging lunatics whenever this topic comes up, though I’m thankful that the commenters at Get Rich Slowly did not.  On one hand, you’ve got the parents who are saving or at least have some sort of plan in place.  But on the other, you have parents who refuse to save for various reasons or simply make excuses to avoid feeling responsible.  Some of the most popular excuses I have heard in the past:

“I worked my way through school.  My kids can do it too.”

“I took out student loans and I did fine.”

“They probably won’t go to college anyway.”

“I don’t want my kids to take college for granted.”

I also know people who don’t save for their kid’s college  because they “want them to struggle like they did.”

That I just cannot understand.

Then there are parents who truly cannot afford to save for college, and I feel for them.  When faced with a choice between paying for basic necessities or saving for college, it makes total sense why someone would forgo college savings and focus on getting through today.  The good news is, students from low-income families typically have access to more financial aid which can help them get through school at a price they can afford.

I think that’s great, but my children can’t count on getting any help.  That’s why I feel strongly that I should help them myself.

Ignore the Naysayers and Start Saving

Despite what anyone says, saving for your child’s education will not necessarily make them spoiled or entitled, nor will it make them do something stupid like spend $100,000 on a Master’s Degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Phoenix.  You also don’t have to compromise your other savings goals (like retirement) to start socking away small amounts of money for your children.

It does not have to be one or the other. 

You can do both- just start early and make a commitment to save on a weekly or monthly basis.

The money can add up quickly if you let it – but you have to start.

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Want more thoughts on parenting and money? Here you go!