Downside to Parents Paying for College

Many parents devote a considerable amount of money to helping pay for their child's college education. If you're one of them, you may want to talk about what you expect in return from your child. New research has found that college kids whose parents are helping them financially may be slacking off a bit academically.


A study by sociology professor Laura Hamilton of the University of California at Merced finds that students’ grade-point averages (GPAs) decrease with more financial support from parents. Ironically, Hamilton also finds that students getting parental aid are more likely to complete college and earn a degree.


“Students with parental support are best described as staying out of serious academic trouble but dialing down their academic efforts,” she writes in her study. “The toll parental aid takes on a GPA is modest. Yet any reduction in student GPA due to parental aid, which typically is offered with the best of intentions, is both surprising and important.”


Separate research has indicated that today’s college students spend an average of 28 hours per week on classes and homework combined (less time than the average high school student spends in school alone). By comparison, college students spend an average of 41 hours per week on social and recreational activities.


Hamilton, who used data from the National Center for Educational Statistics for her own findings, cautions that this doesn’t mean parents should cut off financial support altogether. But she does advise parents to set standards, such as a required GPA, to keep students accountable.


Her study appears in a recent issue of the American Sociological Review.

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22 Feb 2013