When a Child Should Pay for College

Not long ago, I heard a lecture by Dr. John Mark Reynolds, director of the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, on the topic of, “Will My Child Still Be a Christian at the End of College?”.  It was a fascinating lecture on many levels, but he made one point that stuck with me and that fits well into this question today.

He said,  “Don’t send your kid to college if they are still a child.”  His point was that the college experience is less about academics and more about socialization.  Therefore, if your child is not somewhat beyond the foolishness of childhood and into the maturity of young adulthood, it is dangerous for them to attend college because of all of the social forces that will come to bear on their faith and their general development.

 If you feel that your son or daughter is not quite ready for college, introducing a financial obligation that they must meet for them to be able to attend college may be just the thing that will help move them from “child” to “young adult,” thereby ensuring that they have a safer and more productive college experience.  However, if you feel that your son or daughter is academically focused and capable of making wise choices among their peers, you may decide that paying for their college education is a way of allowing them to function most fully and freely in that environment.  In either case, the readiness of the child comes into play.  And, in each case, parents are using money as a tool to help them help their children.

Balancing freedoms and responsibilities for our young adult children is one of the most challenging areas of parenting.  Investing the time in building relationships with them and in praying for them are essential investments that will make the path less rocky.  Your financial decisions surrounding college need to be heavily influenced by who you know your child to be and by what you feel that the Lord is leading you, individually, to do for them and with them.