Who’s Paying for College? Kids and Parents Disagree, Survey Says

A study found kids believe parents should pay for college, while parents think not. Get the details and local resources for planning for college costs.

Think your kids know you can’t afford to pay for their college tuition? There’s a good chance they don’t, according to new research.

In fact, most kids believe it’s their parents’ responsibility to cover college costs, T. Rowe Price’s 2019 Parents, Kids & Money survey found.

While 42 percent of parents reported that it’s not their responsibility to pay for their kids’ college tuition, 70 percent of kids said they believe their parents should pay for it, the National Association of Plan Advisors recently reported. Plus, 26 percent of parents said they’d tap into retirement savings to help cover the costs.

The annual study, which surveyed 1,005 parents of children ages 8 to 14 years old, also uncovered just how many parents might be able to pay for their kids to attend college.

According to the survey, 45 percent of parents can cover some college costs, 25 percent can cover most costs, 19 percent won’t be able to pay for any college costs and 12 percent can pay for all college expenses.

And while many parents would tap into retirement savings to cover college tuition, 68 percent of parents said they’d even be willing to delay retirement to cover the costs, the NAPA notes.

That’s not always recommended, though. When CNBC reported on this topic in April, Miami financial planner Charles Sachs said it’s not wise to risk your own future for your kids’ college costs.

“You’re not a bad parent if you’re not helping fund your kids’ education,” he told CNBC.

That said, many parents need guidance as they navigate the financial aspect of college planning. Consider talking to your financial advisor about the best options for your specific situation, and also look into these three resources for help.

Federal Student Aid website

This site has all the details parents and students need about financial aid, including student loans and other funding sources. You’ll also find information on loan repayment options for parent and student loans.

FAFSA website

The first step to financial aid is filling out the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Pay close attention to filing deadlines and the timeline for accepting aid.

College financial aid offices

If you know which college your child is planning to attend – or if you’re considering a few – reach out to their financial aid offices to find out about detailed costs, any college-specific scholarships or grants that may be available, and what support they might offer to parents and students going through the financial aid process.


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