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January 16, 2022

How much of your child's college costs are you willing to cover?

Few financial decisions a parent makes are as significant -- or as expensive -- as figuring out how much to pay for a child's education.

993663_graduation_capAnd with tuition costs rising faster than the rate of inflation, and more and more students graduating with staggering loan debt, it's a decision that can create financial and emotional strain for even the most  affluent families.

Recently, Morningstar Advisor quizzed investors on how much of their child's college costs they paid or plan to pay and why. Readers shared stories about how they funded their children's educations and just how far they were willing to go to help them get ahead.

Many viewed covering all of their children's college expenses as a parental duty, particularly because their parents had done the same for them. They were also anxious to unsure that their kids started their working lives without having to worry about paying loans.

Others simply couldn't or can't afford to pay all college costs, especially for multiple children. And, even for those that did, it was important that their children bear some of the burden and have some "skin in the game."

"We paid 80% of undergraduate," says one proud parent. "Kids were responsible for 20%, which they could pay from working in high school, obtaining scholarships, work study while in college, and/or loans."

This worked well, apparently: "They had enough of their own sweat equity in it to assure that they worked hard while they were there, yet graduated without a mountain of debt."

How much of your child's college costs are you willing to cover? Do you work off a set percentage? Are all siblings treated the same? 

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...