When the older two started working part-time and summer jobs in high school, we did tell them that they would be responsible for books and spending money for college, but it was presumed that we would be footing the bill for tuition, room and board. Our parents paid for our college educations and we both graduated without the burden of a student loan. We didn't appreciate then what a blessing that was.
When it came time for DD to start college, she had her heart set on a private school one city over. She received a sizable academic scholarship and pulled together a couple of other small scholarships, but we were still left with a pretty big bill. And that's when we started the slippery slope of college loans.
All of the student loans listed in our debt log are for the education of our children. The first two are Stafford loans in DD's name. The last two are dreaded Parent Plus loans. We made a deal with the kids that if they graduated on time and in good standing, we would make the payments on their Stafford loans. DD did just that. DS1 only lasted one year in school before deciding it just wasn't for him. As agreed, he has assumed payments on his Stafford loan.
DS3 will be able to cover most of his college costs with his disability payments, and he will live at home which will keep costs down. Still, we're left with thousands of dollars of student loan debt from his siblings.
Did we do the right thing? Should we have taken out loans to pay for their college? Should we have insisted they foot the bills themselves? I don't know. Our niece was not given any help financing her education and she worked 40-hour weeks while taking a full course load. After three years, she burned out and dropped out, leaving her with three years worth of loans and no degree to show for it.
Where do we draw the line? And is there such thing as good debt? My daughter has taken her degree, gotten a good job in her field and has been self-supporting since a couple months after graduating. I believe our investment with her was a good one. DS1 left us with a Parent Plus loan and has nothing to show for it, but he is working, paying his bills and finding his way. For him, college wasn't it.
It's a hard call. And even now, I don't know that we would do anything differently. But it sure would be great not to have those student loans staring us in the face every month. One day. One day...