Worried about saving enough to get your kids through college? Stop hoarding your pennies—new research suggests that by sharing the college bill with their children, parents may give them a leg up.
BYU family life professors Laura Padilla-Walker and Larry J. Nelson (BS ’94, MS ’96) surveyed more than 400 parents and undergrads (not from BYU) to see what Mom and Dad pay for their kid’s higher ed and how these parental “grants” affect students.
The results, published in the Journal of Adult Development, show that students with less support consider themselves adults sooner and may be more focused on their careers. Those with free rides are more likely to engage in risky behaviors like binge drinking and marijuana use. Padilla-Walker also speculates that they may flounder a bit in making decisions about the future. “If parents are paying for all of college, it could potentially leave children with less motivation,” she says.
But she notes risks in severing the purse strings entirely: students with no financial support graduate later and are more likely to drop out. Padilla-Walker suggests families find a happy medium: for instance, when parents can cover tuition and books, “having students be responsible for recreational and daily spending might be a nice balance.”
— Sara D. Smith (BA ’10)