Why We Don’t Have College Funds for our Kids

posted by Andrea | 03/14/2017
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college funds

Almost immediately after Nora was born, I was asked if Dave and I were planning to set up a college fund for her and for any future children.

Now, after 2 more children, we still get asked this question quite regularly.

The short answer:

No, probably not.

The longer answer:

Our kids are still really young and it will be many years before they will be going to college. We have LOTS of financial goals to reach before then, and we feel those goals are more important than setting up a college fund for our kids.

Obviously, we will continue to evaluate this decision year after year, and we might very-well decide to start college funds for our children, but at this point, we just don’t feel like it’s a great use of our money.

Oh, and I should mention that although we aren’t planning to set up a formal college fund, we DO plan to help our children with at least a portion of their college tuition if/when that time comes.

The “WHYS” to our answer:

I realize many of you probably think we’re crazy for not setting up college funds for our kids — but we’ve actually given the topic a decent amount of thought and we have some pretty specific reasons WHY we don’t currently have college funds for our kids.

1. We want to pay off our mortgage.

One of our goals has always been to pay off our mortgage before our oldest child starts Kindergarten… and the amount of interest we have saved by aggressively paying off our mortgage so quickly is in the tens of thousands of dollars.

This is most likely more than the interest we’d make by keeping our money tied up in a college fund for our kids — plus we have the peace of mind knowing we have no debt and no one can take our home away from us.

2. We want to invest our money to make more money.

As our disposable income increases, we would like to get a little bit more aggressive with our investing and work with our financial person at Edward Jones to help us make money from our money.

At this point, neither Dave or I are very “investment savvy” but we trust our financial investor and he hasn’t steered us wrong over the past 8+ years… and this is currently more important to us and our financial future than saving up a bunch of money to hand our 18 year olds a free college education.

3. We want to send our kids to a Christian school.

Nora is “just” in preschool right now, but starting next year, we’ll be paying full Christian school tuition — and that amount will only continue to increase as our children get older, as we have more children in school, and as tuition prices increase.

For the next 20+ years, we’ll be paying Christian school tuition (no, Dave doesn’t get a discount because he’s a Christian school teacher) and that is more important to us than paying for our kid’s college education.

4. We want to have plenty saved up for retirement.

At this point, Dave and I have been fully-funding our Roth IRA’s each year since we’ve been married. We plan to continue doing this every year until we retire as we feel this is a very important use of our money.

We don’t want to be working when we’re 75 — and since the life expectancy is getting longer and longer, we want to try to be as prepared as possible for our retirement days.

We also don’t want to be a financial burden for our adult children because we failed to save enough to live comfortably in retirement. I have a feeling they would appreciate that more than money for their college tuition 🙂

5. We want our kids to EARN their education.

Dave and I went to a fairly expensive private college, and we both lived on campus. It would have literally been impossible for us to pay for our education by just working and getting scholarships… so we were both thankful that our parents agreed to help us out with SOME financial assistance.

However, we both worked multiple jobs and applied for TONS of scholarships, grants, and special funds to help offset the cost of our tuition. We also both took out student loans each year.

As I mentioned above, we DO anticipate helping our children to fund PART of their college education; however, even if we have the means to fully pay for their entire college education, we probably won’t do it.

I saw too many college students who slacked off because they didn’t have anything invested in their education. They got a “free ride” from mom and dad (who sometimes took out a 2nd mortgage to pay for the tuition). Meanwhile, Dave and I worked our butts off to keep our grades up and keep our scholarships. I know this isn’t always the case, but I did see it happen often.

6. We’re not against student loans.

I know loans aren’t ideal, but the fact that Dave and I had student loans (and then paid them off really quickly) actually did a lot of good for our credit score and our own personal savviness!

Although we were both initially stressed out about how we would pay off our student loans, the whole process taught us a lot of financial responsibility — something we would not have necessarily learned if our parents had simply paid for our college tuition.

We don’t think it’s bad if our kids also have to take out student loans.

7. Our kids might not go to college. 

Obviously, we won’t deter our children from pursuing higher education, but the reality is that a college education is getting ridiculously expensive… AND there is currently a shortage of “blue collar” jobs like mechanics, plumbers, electricians, etc. because everyone thinks they MUST send their children to college.

So if we set up a college fund for our kids and they don’t end up going to college, there’s a chance that money would be stuck in the college fund until another sibling went to college, and then the child wouldn’t get the money anyway (we currently have friends with older children who are dealing with this situation right now and it has caused A LOT of tension among their children).

I know there are different types of funds and ways to save up for college expenses… but the potential hassle of having the money “locked away” until our kids actually go to college (assuming they actually choose to go to college) just doesn’t appeal to us right now.

8. We just don’t want our money tied up.

Dave and I are the type of people who would MUCH rather save money than spend it — and because of this, we don’t feel it’s necessary for us to have our money tied up for so many years just to make sure there is something left when our kids get to college.

By not having college funds, we can use and invest that money for the next 10-20 years, all while keeping college tuition costs in the back of our minds… and then deal with them when the time comes.

I fully realize this method would NOT work for everyone (especially if you aren’t naturally a saver) but that’s how Dave and I view the situation at this point.

These are just a few of the major reasons why we’ve chosen NOT to set up college funds for our kids at this point in our lives.  But like I mentioned above, we will continue to evaluate this decision as time goes on.

College funds are a great way to set aside money for your kids — and I definitely don’t think it’s bad if you DO have college funds set up for your kids.

However, if you are someone who is currently stressing about how you will manage to scrimp and save in order to set up a college fund for your children (or maybe you’re someone contemplating taking out a 2nd mortgage on your house to pay for their college) I hope that after reading this post, you realize that there are other options.

You should not have the sole burden of funding your child’s college education… so don’t feel guilty if you have other ways you’d like to use your money instead.

What are your thoughts on college funds?

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85 comments

  1. Pixie508

    03/14/2017

    While I see your point, we haven’t exactly prescribed to the same philosophy.

    -we fund our retirement accounts (401k and IRAs)
    -we pay down our mortgage ahead of schedule, but not nearly as aggressively as you – the way I’ve plotted it, it should be paid off while our oldest is in HS.
    -we pay private school tuition – our oldest is Nora’s age, but he’s doing the Pre-K at the private Christian school he’ll continue to attend. For private school in our area, it is really reasonably priced, and once his brother joins him, we’ll apply for financial aid. I purposefully work part time in order to make sure the funds are available for tuition.
    -we have 529 funds for our kids – we put a small amount in each month. My parents also expressed a desire to contribute, so they send a check into the fund each month.

    We have made our own financial goals first, but also, with an eye on the future for our kids, to try to prepare ourselves to help them. We will continue to re-evaluate as our financial position changes, and if it comes to a point where we need to make choices, the contributions to the 529s will be the first to go.

    As for paying for college. I DO NOT believe in handing your kids a college education. My parents picked up the tab for ~1/3 of my college education, primarily through my 529 that they had set up while I was in school (I went to public school). The rest of it, I busted my butt working about 30hrs/wk through school and 50+/wk during summers and then I took federally backed loans for the rest. I had skin in the game, which made me work harder both in school and at my jobs, because I knew I needed to buckle down and do what needed to be done to get in and out in 4yrs with as little debt as possible. My younger brother on the other hand, my parents agreed to take out loans in their name (I’m not sure why they lost their minds in the 3yrs between when I started college and he started college!!), and he was not on the hook for hardly anything. He didn’t have a job at college. He certainly didn’t go to class. And at the end, he was “asked to reevaluate” by his university before the end of his freshman year. He had no skin in his education. The debt fell on my parents. I don’t want to repeat my parents mistakes with him.

    My kids will have access to the 529s, and beyond that, my husband and I will evaluate if we will allocate any additional funds on a per child basis. If one chooses not to go to school, we are able to transfer the funds to the sibling without penalty. They’re good at the local community colleges too, which also have some vocational training options (my younger brother ended up completing the certification to become a master mechanic at the community college), so I know that if my kids want to pursue some vocational training through the community college, the funds will most likely cover all of that.

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  2. Christine from The (mostly) Simple Life

    03/14/2017

    I think you guys have a super smart approach to this. You’ll be in a much better position to help your kids as much as you choose to if you don’t have a mortgage and are comfortable with your retirement savings.

    My parents paid for half of my tuition at first. I worked to pay for the rest and had one small student loan. When I transferred to a less expensive college, they were thrilled and paid for all of my tuition. At that time I was living in an apartment, so I worked to pay my rent and living costs which taught me a lot.

    There are so many ways to learn skills to get a good job these days without a college degree, so I can see how it would be unwise to place tons of money in an account that can only be used for college.

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  3. Rose

    03/14/2017

    EXACTLY! Hit the nail on the head!

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  4. Heidi

    03/14/2017

    My grandmother moved in with us when I was in middle school and after she sold her house she put the remaining money from the sale into two college funds for my sister and I. We were to get as many scholarships and work study jobs as we could and then she covered the rest. The deal was, however, that our grades stay up and we had to sit down with her each semester about the previous semester grades and what scholarships and work we had lined up for the upcoming one. Needless to say, she meant business! 🙂 I was able to finish through graduate school with no debt but I certainly had to work for it. That said, we don’t plan on necessarily paying for our own children’s education for many of the same reasons you mentioned.

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    Andrea Reply:

    This is so awesome — thanks for sharing how your family handled college tuition. I think this is a first for me — but definitely a very clever idea!

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    Heidi Reply:

    My grandmother was also the daughter of poor cotton sharecropper who had very high expectations for his 9 kids. He mortgaged his cotton fields to put the first child through college and the expectation was that they would pay for the next sibling to go to school. My grandmother ended up with a master’s degree shortly after World War 2- no small feat for a woman in the 1940’s!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Wow — that’s an amazing story Heidi!

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  5. Jaime

    03/14/2017

    We are thinking along the same lines of you and Dave. Our number one priority right now is to pay off the mortgage. After that, saving for retirement and kids’ educational expenses should come much more easily. Plus as you mentioned, there is so much peace of mind in knowing that your home is actually yours. This is a whole family goal right now, and even our nine year old comments when we save money somehow that the mortgage just got that much smaller. Invaluable life lesson for his future!

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  6. Katie

    03/14/2017

    We do have college funds for our 3 young children but so far we have just put money in when we get an “extra” chunk of money (like a tax refund). That is actually what our advisor says he does with his own kids. We don’t plan on paying for all of their college but we hope when the time comes these little bits we have set aside (and are gaining interest) will help out. All the points you make are good ones though.

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  7. Roxie

    03/14/2017

    I love the way you think. I have no children of my own, but I can speak from experience. My parents were not wealthy people, yet they struggled and sent me to a private, Christian school for 13 years (k-12). As I neared graduation and began to feel independent, I was told by my Mother that I WOULD go to college and I WOULD pay for it myself! I was offended at first, but logic sank in and I realized how much they’d struggled and done without in order for me to have an education, and I wasn’t about to waste that. I went on to pay for my college degree and have been thankful every day for no college debt and for the vital lessons I learned by paying my own way. To this day, I am thankful to my parents for the Christian education I received, as well as the lessons learned about family and sacrificing for each other!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for sharing your story — it’s a great example for so many parents!

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  8. Ann

    03/14/2017

    Agree with these thoughts. One difference today is that, for many students, it is VERY difficult to get loans AND they need a parent or another adult to co-sign for them. Back in my day, loans were a dime a dozen. Not so any more.

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  9. Kerry

    02/23/2015

    You make some very interesting points! My husband and I plan on contributing at least some of our future children’s college education.

    My parents covered my college expenses 100%. Because of that, I actually worked *harder* than a lot of my classmates, because I didn’t want to waste their money. My mom did have rules, though. If I got anything lower than a C, I’d have to pay for that class and any classes I wanted to take after that. As a result, I graduated magma cum laude with no debt. I’m very grateful to them for financing my education. (Grad school, though, they would not pay for.) I would never say that having parents finance their child’s education makes that kid not take college seriously.

    My husband paid for college all on his own. He graduated with a lower GPA than I (but still respectable–not that it really matters in the real world), but also had no debt. I will say that he manages money better than I do, which I do attribute to paying for his own education.

    Ultimately, you just have to do what works for you & your family.

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  10. Jayleen Zotti

    10/09/2014

    We had a lot of the same feelings when the kids were younger. Now that one is three years away from college we wish we would have saved. I love the idea of having them pay for part of their way but hope to be able to help as much as possible!

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  11. Katie T

    09/15/2014

    Just wanted to say, that as a financial aid/scholarship counselor at a major university, the kids in my office that are the most financially savvy/aware, are the ones who are contributing to their college education in some way, shape, or form. Kudos to you and your hubby for your thoughts/decisions on this issue! I really like them. I’m all about moderation… for some kids, taking out a reasonable amount of student loans is what works for them (and is sometimes the difference between finishing a college education and not finishing one). For others, financial aid and scholarships are covering their costs. And yet for other even still, there are other combinations of options out there (paid co-ops, work-study, student worker jobs, working off-campus, etc.) that assist students with paying for school. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, as each family’s situation is different, but as someone working with students and parents in a college (financial!) setting, I applaud your comments on this issue. I think you’ve got a great perspective! 🙂

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  12. Kathryn

    04/19/2014

    Hi Andrea,
    Just chiming in to say that my husband and I are in almost the exact same situation as you and Dave, and it’s great to hear others are in the same boat! I teach at a Christian school as well, and we are also required to send our kids to Christian school. (We would send them to a Christian school even if we didn’t have to!) Love reading your blog – keep up the great work! 🙂

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  13. Lydia @ The Thrifty Frugal Mom

    04/09/2014

    The more I read your blog, the more I really, really like you and the way you think. 🙂 Seriously, your reasons for not having a college fund are totally the reasons that we don’t have them for our kids either. But I’ve met very few people who think this way. It seems like so many people think that you just HAVE to fund your child’s college. But like you, while we may help, we think it’s so beneficial for them to actually have to put something towards it too.

    And I agree that it makes so much more sense to get your mortgage paid off and save that interest. In the long run, that will get you so much farther ahead. And it’s an incredible feeling to get it done early! We’ve also been blessed with an awesome place to invest our money (basically a private business that uses it to offer loans to people.) We get an incredible rate and at this point we can save up so much more that way than by doing anything else. In fact, my husband did the math and ended up taking out student loans for his college this year because we can do better investing the money and then using it to pay off the loans immediately when they come due. Anyway, I’m kind of getting off the subject, am I not? 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for sharing Lydia — I have also been amazed with how many people think they absolutely MUST fund their children’s entire tuition. I even know many people who have borrowed from their retirement funds or taken out 2nd mortgages on their house just so their kids don’t have student loans. Seriously!

    Even if we can afford to fully cover the cost of their college tuition, I’m almost positive we won’t. Our parents could have paid for all our tuition but they didn’t, and I’m positive we’re better off because of it.

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  14. Ellen

    04/06/2014

    I think your plan is great, and it’s similar to my plan for the future (even if I don’t have kids or mortgage yet, and the plan will probably change)!

    I just have to ask, why do you have to send your kids to a christian school? (I’m not American, so I’m probably missing something, but I don’t really see a connection between working at a special school and having to send your children to a similar one…)

    I’m going to save this post for the future, it reminds me of everything I’m planning to do, that I never actually remember I want to do… 🙂

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  15. Jenni/Life from the Roof

    04/02/2014

    Thanks for posting about this – I think it is good to challenge people’s assumptions that they have to save for college. We simply cannot afford to save too much at this point because my husband chose to go back to law school and we will have loans of our own to pay off first!

    Some other points to consider:
    * college could cost much more than it did for you 18 years from now, so this would make me want to save at least a little if I had the money; I, for one, was fortunate to go to a good school for a very affordable price, and my parents paid for it all on a middle-class income, but when I tried working I had a hard time staying on top of my classes as well; that same school is now at least double if not triple the price to attend
    * college could also not be what your kids want to do, at least right away, so why lock it into a fund that can only be used for education?

    Because of that, if and when we have money to set aside, we will probably consider investing money for our kids, but not necessarily in a “college fund.” Although, having a tax break on the savings is also important.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I think this is a really good plan Jenni — and honestly, I wouldn’t worry too much about the tax saving benefits of a college fund. People tend to freak out about tax breaks, but what they don’t realize is how LITTLE the tax break actually is. Yes, you might get a VERY SMALL tax break right now, but then you’re money is tied up for years and if your kids don’t go to college, you could have issues getting the money out.

    I think your plan is a great “happy medium”!

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    Nwmomof2 Reply:

    I had a longer reply on this, but just a quick comment on the taxes: agree that a small tax break may not justify an expense or plan that does not otherwise make sense for your family. But you may be conflating two separate tax issues: the break some states (not all) offer for contributions to education investment accounts, and the benefits of tax deferred savings. Many states do not charge income tax (or defer income tax) on the investment earnings in certain college investment accounts. Investment earnings in a regular investment account may be subject to state income tax (if your state charges it), earnings in a protected account may be tax deferred. So, the earnings pile up faster than if they are taxed. Some states also give an income tax break for contributions to an education investment account, so you an put money in pre-tax. That may be great (depending on your income tax situation), but a separate phenomenon. Check your state’s plan. My own state offers both tax benefits, but the state where my nephew lives cut the deduction for contributions after I started an account for him. (Though, again, at least we are not paying tax on the earnings.). Doesn’t mean a state plan is right for you, but recognize that there are different kinds of tax advantages that may or may not be available or worth it to you. The deferral may be worth more.

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  16. Brenda

    04/01/2014

    Hi,
    You are going to pay to send your kids to Christian school and then transition to paying for college. My siblings and I all went to Christian schools (5 of us total). My mom told me that the last year, when the youngest was a senoir in High School and they had a sophmore in college (Michigan State), the bill was more for the year of high school than for the year of college. So you might not be saving for college, but you will be used to paying (budgeting) for school. Who knows…they might be the same price!

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  17. Marie

    04/01/2014

    My opinions differ. The only comment I will make is people need to make these decisions based on so much. Household income and finances, number of children, and their own wishes and desires. Obviously not everyone has the same circumstances in life or beliefs. People hopefully will hold onto those and not be swayed.

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  18. kelly

    03/31/2014

    Hi Andrea,
    I live in New Zealand, and my parents couldn’t help with any of my university education so I have a large student loan. Accommodation was extra and my uncle paid for my accommodation to help me while I worked fulltime during holidays to fund what I could. Fast forward 4 years after graduation and I’m still working in retail on a medium wage because I can’t get a job in my field. My partner and I brought a house a year ago and are putting on extra payments when we can. My student loan is interest free but I still make extra weekly repayments over and above what I should be and people laugh at me for doing so. I do this because I want to pay off my loan as fast as possible before the government change there mind. So good on you for wanting to help your children with their education but in such a way they still earn it

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  19. Amber Kristine

    03/31/2014

    I honestly never thought of it this way before. It’s very important to teach the value of money, hard work and to not let your future wishes hold you back from the present.

    Great post Andrea! It definitely got me to see something in a different light 🙂 I never would have thought of it this way before.

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  20. Janice

    03/31/2014

    I taught at a Christian school for 27 years where our 2 kids attended K-12. It started out that teachers were given a small percent break on tuition and as the school grew in enrollment the percent was increased. Finally, during our #2 child’s senior year, full-time teachers received complete tuition break. I loved teaching there and continued for many years after our kids graduated. I could have gotten a much bigger salary if I had stayed in the public school system where I first began my career, but I wouldn’t trade my 27 years there for all the public school benefits. We believed our whole family received untold blessings by our Christian school experience. Every family has to do whatever seems best for their situation.

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  21. Bridget

    03/31/2014

    Just another chiming in that we feel the same way. We did pay off our house and I can’t tell you the financial freedom it gives. We also basically live on one (modest) income and save the rest. When college comes, we can easily shift that money to paying for (part) of school. We also want our kids to have to foot part of the bill. Paying for the whole thing on your own with no debt isn’t as easy as it was when my husband did it, but being responsible for enough to make you think carefully about your spending is a great thing. I also agree with you that this plan only works if you have the financial discipline to be able to live on half your income.

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  22. Sheila

    03/31/2014

    We have 3 children ages 21, 20 and 16. I worked as a registered dietitian for 5 years before we had children and then quit to stay home and raise our children which was my honor and privilege . My husband is a pharmacist. Our oldest chose not to go to college and is currently a nanny and supports herself. Our middle child is a sophomore in college . We pay for her tuition and living expenses which again is an honor and a privilege. She works at a vet clinic in the summers and has since she was 16. Our son is a sophomore at a locel private Christian school which his sisters also attended. We will pay for his college as well. He will get his first job this summer. If our children were not living lives that we felt honored the Lord and were not making good choices we would not finance their way. We are not sacrificing our retirement as we began investing early. We did not put their college money in funds that we could not get out if they chose not to attend as was the case with our oldest. My husband had student loans and I did not. Given that, we made the decision to fund their education to the best of our abilities and feel blessed to be able to do so. One last thing, our daughter hopes to get into vet school and if she does we will help as much as possible but she will have to help as well as take out loans as there is just no way we could afford tuition for vet school but we would pay for it all if we had that sort of income.

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  23. Deana

    03/31/2014

    What a refreshing post!! My husband and I have very similar views as you and Dave, but can honestly say you don’t run into many couples that feel this way. We both graduated with four-year degrees with no debt and little to no assistance from our parents. Not because they didn’t want to, but because they were financially unable. My husband received money every year from his grandpa for college, but he worked to pay his tuition and expenses, and his grandpas money was used for the downpayment on our first house. We were 22 and 24. We take a lot of pride in everything we’ve accomplished on our own and want our children to feel that sense of accomplishment as well.

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  24. Vickie

    03/31/2014

    Such wise words. None of my adult children chose to go to college, much to my dismay. Their dad, college educated, told them if they’d be hard workers and if they didn’t have a specific need for a college degree, they’d never lack for a job. That has proved invaluable advice and so true time after time! One did get her associate degree but isn’t using it! Education is good but not the answer to all of life! Wisdom is better than knowledge, too!

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  25. Kim

    03/31/2014

    Loved this post and agree 100%!
    I have known some families who were so focused on setting up college funds immediately that they did not see that having mom work lessin the early years (inserting MY opinion now, not anyone else’s) so they could guide, raise and enjoy their babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Also, I agree that there are too many college students with a sense of entitlement to not lifting a finger to educate themselves………………….parents thinking it is a right of passage. It is a proovable point that anyone who has worked for something will appreciate it more and be a better steward of it.
    I will say I am a bit shocked that Dave’s school offers no tuition break to faculty. It makes me even more thankful that the Christian school where I worked as the school nurse (when our girls were going through) gave a generous tuition break.

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  26. Wilma

    03/31/2014

    Here in Canada, the government will put up to $500 a year (per child, I believe) in a Registered Education Savings Account, depending on how much the parents/other persons put in. If we put in $209 per month, we’ll get the full $500. It can be used toward any type of post secondary education. If it’s not used, the money granted by the government must be paid back. The funds are fully controlled by the person who opened the account.

    I’d like to contribute in some way to my children’s post secondary education, though I agree that a full free ride is not necessarily appropriate. I came out of school with a staggering amount of debt, and while that’s all paid off, I think it would be nice if my kids didn’t have quite so much debt when they finish.

    I think that as long as parents think the process through and know what their goals are, their kids will be just fine 🙂

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  27. Avia

    03/31/2014

    I really appreciated this post. We have not yet set up a college fund for our DD even though we’ve felt like we “should”. Your post helped to further clarify in my mind why we haven’t done it; funding our retirement, paying off our mortgage and investing. I also agree that kids should be at least partially invested in their own education. Thanks for a thoughtful post.

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  28. Meg

    03/31/2014

    You’ve brought up some really good points that I have never thought of. I’ve always felt guilty that we haven’t been able to save much for our daughter due to the fact we spend an average of $25,000 in medical expenses every year since 2008.

    That is unfortunate that you don’t get a discount if you send your kids to Dave’s school! You would think being obligated to send your kids to a Christian school, there would be the benefit of a tuition discount.

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  29. Lee Cockrum

    03/31/2014

    This post is great! I will say to those who plan to pay in full, I think that can take something away from your kids. It has been 28 years since I graduated from college. I had some scholarships and grants, some loans, and a LOT of working. I was the oldest of 5, so my parents were not able to help a lot, although they did help some. To this day I am very proud of all the work I did to get through college, both academically and financially. I would not be as proud if it had been handed to me financially.

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  30. Diana

    03/31/2014

    I agree with a LOT of what you’ve written, especially about kids contributing to their own education. I also experienced many “slackers” who were in no hurry to graduate because their parents were footing the bill.
    But, if you want to invest your money to make more, and you intend to pay for some of your kids college expenses, why not take advantage of tax free growth? If your tax rate is 20%, you would automatically make 20% more on your money.

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  31. Mary

    03/31/2014

    Good points. Just wondering why your kids must go to a Christian school even if you didn’t want them to. Why don’t you try homeschooling?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hey mary, I’m wondering if you mis-read the post. I specifically stated that we definitely DO want to send our kids to a Christian school — it’s not something we feel we have to do, we WANT to. And to answer your question even further, even if we didn’t want to send our kids to a Christian school, we have to because Dave teaches at a Christian school and that’s part of his contract.

    However, as I stated above, it’s really a non-issue because we 100% DO want to send our kids to a Christian school 🙂

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    Kristin Reply:

    I don’t think she misread it, because I read it the same way. But you also answered the question. So it’s part of his employment contract that your children must go to school there? They aren’t allowed public school?

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    Jenni/Life from the Roof Reply:

    Really? Does that mean they have to go to that Christian school? And pay full tuition? I am really surprised if that is the case. My husband taught at a private Christian high school for 10 years and never had that in his contract, nor did he have to pay anything if our kids had wanted to attend (which, at $10,000 per student per year, would have cost us a lot!)

    Maybe he gets paid more – I know that our school did not pay the market rate for teachers although we did have good benefits, so it was a “bonus” that they could go to school for free. We homeschool, though, and could have done so if we wanted while there.

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  32. Paulette Smith

    03/31/2014

    Great post! Can’t tell you the number of kids who partied in college while their parents were footing the bill. You and Dave are wise!! 🙂

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  33. Stephanie

    03/31/2014

    So interesting to hear other opinions on this issue. My opinion is the exact opposite.

    I went to a Christian college (tuition now is $45k). My mom worked there, so I got a substantial discount after she met the 2 year employment mark. I started school 6 months after she started her job there, so we had 1.5 years of full tuition to pay.

    I was a good student, but not the best, so scholarships were still few and far between. My parents told me I was to pay for 25% of tuition, plus books. I worked a job on campus for extra money. When graduation came, my parents handed me a card with my debt owed to them, and as their gift to me, paid my debt owed, and the bottom line said money owed to them was $0. What a gift! I never expected that, but I can’t believe what a great financial start it was for my adulthood.

    Our dream now is to fully pay for our children’s education. Our mortgage is almost paid, and our oldest child is only 3. Each month we contribute $250 to each of the 529 plans (2 kids). Our goal is to have it fully funded, but then also do the same as my parents did. The money was there, but never once did I think it was going to be handed to me. We will tell our children they will pay for a portion of their schooling, but in the end, it will be a fully funded gift from us.

    We have certainly been blessed with a larger income to be able to do this, and I know it isn’t possible for everyone. In our situation, however, the children will know that hard work pays off, and will also start their adult lives debt free.

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    What a wonderful gift! Love the idea!

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  34. Olivia

    03/31/2014

    I LOVE that you & Dave will pay for *part* of your children’s education, but not all of it. My parents were not able to pay for any of my college, while my husband’s parents paid for part of his, but not all. When we both graduated, he was SO much more money-savvy than me! I knew how to work my tail off to make ends meet, but my grades suffered as a result. He was able to work part time jobs and side gigs (as a musician) to supplement what his parents were not funding, and learned to save as he went. To your point, one of my best friends’ parents refused to let her work, and insisted on paying for every penny of her education and living expenses…she moved back in with them (after they paid for both her BS and MS), and is still fully depending on them, as she has no motivation or need to get a “real” job! I’m not a huge fan of student loan debt, as we’re still paying off a little of it, but it definitely forces us to be money smart. Great post!

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  35. simply organized

    03/31/2014

    I wholeheartedly agree, especially about kids *earning* their education.

    Last year, I came cross a book written by a high school teacher that has changed our lives and perspective on personal finance. I wish this is something all high school teachers could teach kids IN school.
    I recommend checking your local library to see if they have a copy:
    Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School
    by Andrew Hallam
    I believe he also has a personal blog as well.

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  36. Sarah

    03/31/2014

    I agree and disagree.

    Andrea, you do make some valid points and I agree with working hard and earning the education. While we don’t know what the next 16 years will bring our children in terms of education or what kind of learners they will be, I probably would put a little bit away for my child (and I don’t feel it has to be a traditional college fund or anything at a bank to do so).

    I worked hard to get to college (a private Christian college) and where I am today. I tried for the very best grades I could get and applied for scholarships, etc. However, there was always a “better candidate” out there. I took out loans and worked 2-3 jobs all while studying. I am still paying off loans and will be probably for the 6-10 years and I have been out for 10 years already. I am happy with my decision to go to the school I did, but do wish that I could have not had to work as much as I did in order to focus more on my studies.

    My dad wanted to save some money for college for me. My mom said it was not necessary and that I would go on scholarships. My dad wishes he would have never listened to my mother. We don’t know how many or if at all that our children will be able to recieve scholarships, etc. My dad still tries to help me out when he can. My mom on the other hand, well that is another can of worms.

    It’s not much right now, but I have an envelope (yes, and envelope) which I put in $20 (Euro actually) a month right now for my daughter. I will do the same when the next comes a long in a few months. Depending on our financial situation in a few years, when I am back to work full-time and we have a few other things taken care of, I will up that amount. I don’t know an exact amount, but something that we can afford for both of our children. It’s so “little” right now because while on maternity leave, I recieve only 65-68% of my income, but I do get to stay home a year. Every little bit will help.

    We also don’t know where we will be in 16 years…will we be in the US or still in Germany or will we have gone to the US for a few years and be back in Germany. I know right now that if our children were to go to college in Germany, that 20 Euro (plus the upped amount) a month will go a long away and probably pay for college for them. At the moment in the town I am in, college costs 190 Euro per semester, including public transport ticket. Housing, food, books, etc. is extra. When I did my exchange year here 12 years ago, we paid about 120 Euro.

    We will have a little something for our children, however, if there is a huge emergency and our emergency fund is low or doesn’t have enough, we can still borrow it from the “envelope” if need be without having to worry about how we are going to get it out of some kind of fund.

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  37. Kim {Pinspired Home}

    03/31/2014

    Thanks for sharing. You have obviously thought this out and are making the choices that work best for your situation.
    I have a question, though: do your kids ever receive gifts toward their college education, and if so, how do you handle that? Our son receives a check from his grandparents every year and we put that into a state-run 529 college savings fund. We don’t have a lot invested (he’s only 2), but its nice to have a designated account for those gifts. 🙂

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    Julie Reply:

    We were going to do that, but since we don’t know for sure that our kids are going to want to go to college we decided to go to a financial advisor (Edward Jones) and put all of our kids (we have 4) money in a custodial account. Basically, Edward Jones put them in mutual funds and builds their accounts up so that when it is time to go to college(if they choose) they have money to do so. If they choose to not go to college then they have money to either start their own business or purchase their first house(or hopefully have a good down payment).

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  38. Lydia @ Five4FiveMeals

    03/31/2014

    You make a lot of good points. College is a privilege, NOT a right. But I will say, I do not like student loans. I don’t like debt of any sort. I graduated debt free, I had scholarships, I worked and my parents saved. My husband also worked and had scholarships but his parents didn’t save for him and couldn’t help and it took us a very long time to pay off those loans. It was definitely a burden because when we graduated the interest on the loans was 7 %. We were living in Atlanta and I lost my job and my husband took a massive pay cut. We were barely scraping by and we had these loan payments. Life happens, too much life happens and I want to help my child start their life and career with zero debt. But, I also don’t want them to think I am just going to hand them a tuition check and that will be the end of it.

    [Reply]

    Caroline Reply:

    I agree with your sentiments. I graduated school without debt of any kind. I received scholarships, my parents gave me some money each semester, and I worked to cover the rest. Life would have been much easier (and probably more fun!) if I’d taken out loans but I am SO glad I stuck with it and paid out of pocket each year,.

    My opinion on providing a greater amount of financial support for my kids’ education has done a 180 over the past couple years. With the experience of living debt free, and also seeing how having/not having debt can impact you in your 20’s, I don’t want my children to have the burden of student loans. I will expect my kids to work for their educations but I pray I will be able provide a great amount of financial assistance as we aren’t willing to sacrifice our retirement to do it. We plan to not have a mortgage and are exploring other investment opportunities, with the intent of providing the resources to save for retirement and provide help to our children.

    Thank your for this post, Andrea. It’s incredibly open and thoughtful!

    [Reply]

  39. Carrie

    03/31/2014

    I agree with this post completely. I do not have money set aside for my five kids’ college. We have a very nice college in town, so my boys can live at home and go to college without paying room and board. I will pay their living expenses while they are at school, but once they graduate I expect them to get a job and pay rent or move out. I do not believe in paying for college at the expense of your own retirement. And I have seen too many parents throw their money in the garbage for college and the kids end up not finishing.

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  40. Organize 365

    03/31/2014

    I couldn’t agree more. When we adopted our kiddos we DID start college funds for them. Luckily we did not put much in those funds.

    Our kiddos medical and special educational needs take up more than 50% of our income. Their needs are beyond what public school can provide and we are paying the equivalent of college tuition for our kids schooling EVERY year since they were 3!

    If/when our kiddos do go to “college” it will be a community college or trade school. Which will be cheaper than what we are paying now for their schooling.

    Now we are trying to figure out how to get our money OUT of a fund we will not likely use.

    [Reply]

    Sharyl Reply:

    As a mother to 4 adopted special needs kiddos..totally agree!

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