Study: Kids Expected to Help Pay for College

With the cost of higher education continuing to soar, and the resulting glut of student loan debt piling up, more parents are looking for help in paying for college.  And they're looking at their children.  According to a new Fidelity Investments survey, parents now expect children to pay a larger share of college costs---on average more than $3,000 higher than the same survey in 2016.  In addition, a majority of parents surveyed believe their children should pick up at least some of the tab for their own college education. 

Fidelity spokesperson John Boroff believes the change in philosophy reflects a growing recognition by parents of the exorbitant price of higher education.  "They're starting to save when their children are a little younger, but (parents) are also a lot more realistic about the cost of college and their ability to cover those costs, so that's leading to these greater expectations of their children participating in paying for it," he says.  Indeed, the survey found nearly four-in-ten parents start to save for college before their child turns 2.

As for exactly how parents expect their youngsters to chip in, it depends.  "Whether it's through gifts or through income from employment, really it could be any of the above," says Boroff.  And that doesn't just mean paying for tuition or room and board.  "There's books, pizza money, whatever it is...there are life costs associated with living away from home for the first time," he says.

Regardless of how early you start saving for college or how much you expect your child to help pay for it, Boroff recommends having an open discussion about it early on.  "I think having a plan, and for the children to know their part of the plan, and to be able to participate and understand what it is they're paying for, the earlier the better on that," he says.

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