Taking Notes: Eye on Education – High Tuition and Parents

This column focuses on a wide range of issues affecting post-secondary students. Students are encouraged to submit suggestions and educational topics they are concerned about, or personal experiences with courses or university situations they feel other students should know about. If suggest a topic or a course alert for taking notes, contact djabbour@ausu.org

HIGH TUITION AND PARENTS

Parents may or may not be in a position to pay for their children’s post-secondary education, but high tuition rates are affecting many parents in a less obvious way. Students struggle to pay for their education, stay in school longer, and often find earnings upon graduation are insufficient to allow them to repay student loans while earning enough to marry, buy a home and start a family. Increasingly, students are opting to live at home both during their education and afterwards, creating an additional financial burden on their parents and impacting parental lifestyle in numerous ways.

In contrast to a few years ago, one U.S. study estimates that one-fourth of the cost of raising a child now comes after the child turns 17 – with some researchers suggesting that parents will spend at least $47,000 on each of their adult children between the ages of 18 and 34. Another study found that almost one-fourth of parents borrow an average debt of $17,000 to pay for their children’s education, with one in five taking out a second mortgage and one-third using credit cards. In addition to the tuition outlay, parents are taking responsibility for day to day living costs for their children, often well beyond graduation. American parents receive some relief through federal government-sponsored loans that help pay for post-secondary education, offsetting the need for second mortgages or credit card debt. Canadian parents, however, have no such assistance, and the impact of bankrolling a child’s education means that many parents are placing their own lives on hold; deferring retirement and adjusting their retirement expectations.

Edmonton Journal, March 11, 2005. Kids in parents’ pockets eroding retirement savings: Parents wrestle with changed expectations for their own futures as twentysomethings stay in the nest.

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