Why I’m Not Paying for College Tuition for My Kids
Have you ever almost drowned?
I don’t mean like you choked on a little water in the pool and thought you’d cough forever.
I mean you were underwater and had given up on ever getting air in your lungs again.
You were sinking and struggling to get back to the surface, but you knew you’d never make it on your own.
Then, someone pulled you out.
They grabbed your sinking body and pulled you to the surface where you greedily inhaled great gulps of air.
As you lay there breathing the air you never thought you’d feel again, you are overwhelmed by gratitude for the person that plucked you out of the water.
You praise Jesus for sending someone to save your wretched life and would readily give all your worldly possessions to that person if they asked.
You were under water and overwhelmed by the weight of it and God sent you a savior.
Because of this analogy, I will not be paying for my kid’s to go to college.
Y’all were expecting an analogy about how Jesus was sent to save you. And while that’s true, that’s not my point.
Stick with me.
Even if I become a million billion trillionaire in the next eight years, my children will go to college on scholarships or student loans.
There is incredible value in feeling the weight of your education.
My husband and I, at 40 and 33 years old, are still bearing the weight of our education.
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We both have master’s degrees, and we both took out student loans to supplement the scholarships we got.
Every month, when I pay for student loans I feel the full weight of our education. It weighs on me and I often think what a waste it is that I stay home all day with kids and don’t use that beautiful master’s degree.
If someone were to come and write a check to pay off my student loans, the relief that I would feel would be almost immeasurable. My gratitude would be unending.
A couple of scholarships I got required a letter of thanks to the benefactor who provided the funds. I wrote them a letter and now I can’t even remember their names. At the time I didn’t realize the enormity of their gift to me. I had not felt the weight of that debt.
I had not yet felt the weight of my choices.
Through college, I began to understand.
Understanding the debt I would owe pushed me to work harder to stay in classes I would have otherwise dropped. It forced me to get done with my bachelor’s at 21 because I didn’t want to pay for another semester. In fact, my last semester I took 21 hours because every class over 18 hours was free and I wanted to be DONE.
Sure, I had a couple of panic attacks that semester, but I would have had those anyway. Right?
So what I’m suggesting is that maybe you don’t pay for your kid’s college tuition.
And yes, I do know how expensive college is. According to ValuePenguin.com, the average cost for one year at an in-state school is $25,290.
Maybe you should let them know upfront that you won’t be footing that bill so they work their very hardest to get the grades to guarantee a scholarship for school.
Maybe they will apply for the hundreds of scholarships that are out there.
Maybe you can use this as an opportunity to teach them about loans as you help them find the best student loans for them.
Maybe this will help you stop feeling like you owe your children an easy life.
There’s a weird thing in society now where parents talk about the piece of junk car they drove when they were 16.
They reminisce about how embarrassed they were.
They tell stories of pushing it into a gas station because the gas gauge broke and they ran out of gas.
People recognize how their character was impacted by driving their old jalopy, and how they secretly loved the rusty hunk of metal because it was theirs.
But all the while, these same parents are paying huge car notes for their sixteen-year-olds to drive souped-up Jeep Wranglers.
And their justification?
“My child deserves this.”
Let me stop you right there.
Your child deserves death on a cross for their sins.
Just like me and you.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
See, we’re all sinners, and it’s only by the grace of God and the blood of Jesus that we can be saved from the terrible price of our transgressions.
Jesus literally gave his life for you and your child and then defeated death to rise victoriously from the grave.
You and I had a massive debt that we could never pay.
As followers of Jesus, we feel the weight of it before we feel the relief of Jesus paying it.
He didn’t pay it because we deserved it, but because He earned it and He is merciful to us.
He paid it so that you could tell others about him.
So that you could choose each day to progressively be more like Jesus than you were the day before by serving others, growing in your knowledge of God, fellowshipping with other believers, mentoring young Christians, and using your entire life to serve God.
Now, this isn’t a post to rant about the failings of society.
Anyone who expects society to be good hasn’t read their Bible very closely.
“In the world, you will have trouble. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
This is just a post to help you evaluate your future plans for your kids.
Do you want them to be the kind of adults that can bear up under the weight of their decisions and choices?
Do you want them to have the strength to push on when things are tough because they know that their future is resting on their shoulders?
Or do you want them to depend on you for the rest of your life?
A lot of people get this last question wrong.
The question isn’t “do you want them to depend on you for the rest of their life?”
Because unless they die early, they will outlive you. And then they will be forced to take care of themselves without your love, support, and knowledge to call on.
And I’m seriously asking these questions of you.
This isn’t just some sort of rhetorical device.
I sincerely want to give you a chance to reflect on what you really want for your kids.
Maybe you’ve gotten swept up in the business of daily life and haven’t taken the time to fully think your parenting choices through to the end.
I have a friend that still pays her grown daughter’s cell phone bill.
Her daughter is a college graduate living in a different state working a full-time job.
Her reason for footing this bill is so that her daughter has to answer the phone every time she calls.
“I’m paying your bill. You have to answer my calls.”
She also has tracking apps so that she can see where her daughter is at all times. In another state.
We are supposed to be raising kids who want to answer our calls.
But if they don’t want to answer our call, we need to be okay with it.
We should have the confidence in eighteen years of parenting decisions to believe that we’ve raised a human being that is doing good at adulting.
And I’ll go ahead and be completely honest here.
I’m not talking from a place of experience.
My oldest is ten.
I can’t imagine how hard it must be to let them go.
To let them move out and be independent adults with the full responsibility of their own dreams and mistakes.
But even though my oldest doesn’t even have a cell phone yet, I know that there will be a day that she will take her cell phone and move out.
She will have the choice to not answer my calls because she is an adult.
She will pay for her own phone bill and her own education.
My prayer is that I will have raised her to bear up under the weight of responsibility.
In eighteen years with me, we will have done enough strength training that she will be strong enough to carry that load.
And if it is too much to bear, she will set it down and take a break until she is ready to pick it up again. If she needs help, I will be glad to help her carry on, but I will not carry it for her.
And, most importantly, eventually she will pick it up again.
Dreams and goals are heavy.
Achieving your dreams and meeting your goals is hard.
I want her to want something bad enough to work hard for it.
No one gets stronger by having someone else carry a weight beside them.
Imagine lifting weights while your child watches and then being confused as to why your kid isn’t getting stronger.
To have strong, resilient children we have to let them lift heavy things.
We have to train them one burden at a time to be a strong adult.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Parenting is training your kids to be self-sufficient adults.
If your parenting isn’t on track to produce adults who can care for themselves, reevaluate and change.
Teach them to wash their own clothes, earn their own money to buy the things they want, serve others selflessly, and make their own decisions even if they’re bad.
Let them fall and fail. Help them up and love them through it, but don’t carry them.
Teach them to get back up on their own feet and keep going.
Show them how strong they are.
And back to the paying for college tuition – If I am a gazillionaire one day, I will still make my kids take out student loans or earn scholarships to pay for their college.
But one day when they’ve tried to pay them off on their own, I will write a check and pay them off for them. I will reach into the water and pluck them out. They will have a weight lifted off of them, and they will fully understand how much it cost because they’d felt the full weight.
What are your thoughts on not paying for your children’s college? Tell us in the comments!
*And if you are a parent who is paying for your kid’s college – please don’t think I’m judging your parenting. Maybe you’ve done other things to teach your kids to be strong, resilient adults. If so, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!
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I love this and agree fully. We started telling our kids in 6th grade that they would be paying for their own college education. Our oldest struggled with school academically and it took about a year of us telling him about college that he got serious and is now a 3.8 gpa student. He takes school very seriously and is doing lots of planning on how he will earn the money (working, scholarships, etc). He is a junior in high school now.
My parents paid for all of my schooling which I am very grateful for but I was a slacker, didn’t do well in college and took 5 years to complete. If they had made me pay I would have finished quickly and probably made better grades.
Thanks for your great message above. Thankful for Jesus and his sacrifice for me!
Halee Anthony says
Desiree – that is so awesome that your son is taking it so seriously! What an encouraging story. I hope my kids will do that by the time they’re his age. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!