Why My Kids Will Be Helping to Pay for College

Living at home after graduationLiving at home after graduationGrowing up I always knew I was going to college, mostly because I was told as much from a very young age.

"You will go to college," my parents told me, "and we'll help you pay for it." Notice they didn't say they'd pay for it, or that I'd be free to take a year off to backpack through Europe.

Following high school graduation I attended California State University where I chose Child and Adolescent Studies as my major because I thought I liked teaching. As it turned out, I didn't like teaching (or really even other people's kids) so I never began my career as an elementary school teacher. BTW, you're welcome for that.

Related: Why I'm not paying for my kids' college

As affordable as subsidized education was through the state of California at that time, my divorced parents each agreed to pay a third of my tuition while I struggled to pay my third.

While I never considered a college major in Theater Arts or Philosophy, my parents would have been happy to support any major of my choosing so long as I understood the two-third buck stopped after graduation.

As a parent, I like to pretend that college is a long way off but it's not. Boy Wonder is turning 10 years old next month and his life's goal is to become an artist. He's pretty good too. We've already supported him with art lessons for the last five years, and I know him well enough to understand that his ability to study art in college might be the only thing that motivates him to attend.

What does someone do with a major in art? I supposed starve or teach is the cynical answer to that riddle. Daily News reports that a recent Fidelity Investment survey found that parents plan to pay for 57 percent of their children's college tuition, yet only have enough resources to actually pay for 30 percent, taking out student and private loans make up the difference. The survey also found that on average, most college students were saddled with $25,250 in student loan debt after graduation which is presumably why 16 percent of parents ask their kids to change majors to help secure lucrative employment post graduation.

Related: 7 habits of highly effective kids

Fellow Kid Scoop blogger, Kacy is busy thinking about the future as well. As the parent of a now high school sophomore, she ponders what we should say to our kids about their future in these tough economic times. Listen to her take (I couldn't love this quote more), "Study something that will get you a job. Be realistic. But when it comes to my kids and the life they'll lead I find myself wanting to shout, "DO WHAT YOU LOVE!" I hope they are able to find something they love and I hope they can do something they love well."

You bet my husband and I will be scrounging to help pay Boy Wonder's college tuition but we won't be footing the entire bill, particularly for a major in art. If I'm coming off sounding unsupportive, that's not the intention. Boy Wonder owes it to himself to follow his passion, but it won't come without a price.

I happen to believe personal passion is something that requires a great deal of hunger and sacrifice. I'll be the first one to stand up and cheer for the person who goes the road less travelled and colors outside the lines. The person who somehow, against all odds found a way to make a living as a dreamer. God bless the people who do. And God bless my son should he choose to devote his education and livelihood to art. But here's the thing, I won't be paying for him to try and make a go of it.

Related: 16 ways to avoid raising a spoiled brat

Dreamers need to dream hungry dreams and have nothing to lose. They need to pour every ounce of their creativity into their work as if their lives depended on it. A true visionary never created an ounce of something worthwhile because they didn't have to. They answered a call within themselves because if they didn't they would have ceased to exist. My Boy Wonder is that dreamer.

And really, good for him. Mom and Dad will always be there to love and support him, offer home-cooked meals, and help him in every possible way aside from financial. We've all got to grow up sometime and nobody said it was gonna be easy.

- By Lori Garcia
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