Saving for College? Put Your Kids to Work


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If your kids are approaching college age, you’re probably starting to think about how you’re going to pay for it. Most parents don’t start doing much until in the few years before college – which is often too late. So how can you pay for those huge college expenses? One partial solution is to get your kids to help out as much as they can.

There are lots of ways to do this. First and foremost is getting a job – a lot of parents don’t want to do this, especially because of the risks that grades will suffer.

If your child is likely to be competitive for a scholarship, this is a very important consideration, and you probably should go that route instead. If not, it actually isn’t that harmful to work part time – five to ten hours a week doesn’t interfere with studying much at all. If the alternative is not being able to pay for college, then it’s well worth the risk – working teaches your kids responsibility and the value of a dollar, and if they can’t balance school and a part-time job, they aren’t going to be suited to the hectic pace of college.

You don’t want to overload your kids, though – don’t make them go out and work thirty hours a week. They need to be contributing to the costs of their own education, but they don’t need to be treated like cheap labor. The point of a job is partially the money – but more importantly, it’s to teach your kids how to manage their lives. If you aren’t going to be able to pay for college entirely, they may have to work part time to pay their way through. If you haven’t taught them how to do this, it will be a sudden shock at a time when they won’t have you there to guide them through it.

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