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Are Parents Supposed to Provide Financial Support to College Students?

Eric Rijkse (Netherlands)

When I got a part-time job during college, many of my friends were shocked. I come from a middle-class family and both of my parents have good jobs, so everyone expected me to go through education with as little effort as possible. They say “stay cool… why are you torturing yourself with restaurant work when your parents can easily pay for all your expenses?” To be honest, my parents did offer to cover my entire education and living expenses, but I found no sense in waiting for my father to send me money so I could spend it in bars. Under the moral and legal laws in all countries, parents have an obligation to support their underage children and care about their health. In almost all cultures, parents are also expected to pay for college education. That’s one of the reasons why college tuition fees are becoming higher by the year – parents have been saving for years to gather enough money for this part of education. I find that system very flawed. My conscience doesn’t allow me to take an unreasonable amount of money from my parents when I can do my best to earn a scholarship and work to cover my own living expenses.

All parents carry a responsibility to prepare their children for independent life and work. They fail to achieve that goal in the moment they decide to pay thousands of dollars for college tuition. Young people, who are used to getting their needs satisfied through the efforts of their parents, develop into lazy individuals who are rarely aware of the real values in life. Only few of them do their best to finish college on time and make their parents proud for their sacrifices. From what I see in college, most students only care about having good time. If their parents saw their behavior, I doubt they would continue covering the expenses for their education. No, I don’t believe my parents are responsible to work and make sacrifices for my sake. They have done everything in their power to bring me up as a conscious individual who can accomplish success through independency. I am grateful for that. It’s easy to do math with other people’s money. A student who has never carried the burden of being financially independent faces a real rollercoaster after graduation.

My wishes and ambitions are higher than I ever imagined. The goal to get a degree with the support of my parents and find a safe job after college faded away the day I realized that my mission in life was to become a mature, independent woman. As time goes by, my real dreams are closer than ever. However, my parents are not obliged to feed the lioness in me; they are not obliged to wear the same clothes for years and to give up on vacations for decades just to pay my tuition in an expensive college. They felt like they were responsible to put their own dreams aside and become nothing but payers of loans for my pleasure. They would be happy to do that and see me walking around a fancy European city with my college degree. In reality, I would never enjoy such luxury that comes from the sacrifices of the people I love the most. Absolute parental love is not shown through financial support; it’s conveyed through moral incentives and love.

Colleges and universities have become business corporations. Their administration is aware of the fact that parents would pay any price to see their children succeed, so they abuse those principles to impose higher tuition and fees with each passing semester. Everyone can decide to pay for their son’s or daughter’s education, but parents should stop sacrificing their retirement funding for that person. There are several ways for us students to pay for our own education: scholarships, loans, competitions, part-time jobs, and more. If the college of our dreams is more expensive than we can afford, we can pause and work for few years before starting that journey, or we can opt for community colleges. The moment I decided to find ways to pay for my own schooling was the point of life when I knew I was a responsible grownup. I knew I had to work harder and study more than ever, but I was ready to face the challenge. It’s okay to rely on my family when I cannot go through the month, but I would never expect my parents to make sacrifices for the sake of my undisturbed comfort.

I don’t think that all students who got their college education paid by their parents are spoilt. However, I feel like they are missing out on the opportunity to become responsible and inspire themselves to work harder towards the future they want to achieve. The simple fact that most families cannot carry the burden of tuition fees is enough to make us understand that college education is our own responsibility. If we all understand the responsibility and difficulty to pay for our own education, we will rise against the unfairness of the expensive educational system, and we will demand dramatic changes in the tuition fees and living expenses. We can start making smarter choices and make our parents proud of the people they raised. All I know is that when I graduate from college, I will continue working and investing in my higher education. That will be a modest gift to myself, and another important investment in my own future.

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