Why family paying for your tuition shouldn’t matter

Photo by Madeline McInnis

One of the biggest problems in university, aside from balancing course work, your social life and work obligations, is paying for tuition.

While many people rely on grants, bank loans, OSAP and scholarships, some students are more lucky than others. I’m obviously talking about students whose parents pay their tuition for them.

This can include things like Education Savings Plans (ESPs), lines of credit, or using their parents’ chequing accounts.

These students don’t have to worry about student debt when they’re done school and can attempt to get into the workforce without worrying about paying monthly loan fees.

However, I’ve noticed that people will actually demean students who have this luxury. This might be from jealousy, which is a fair point to make. According to Stats Canada, the average Canadian university student will have more than $26,000 in student debt.

For some, it can vary. Some students may have under $10,000, while others will have upwards of $50,000. And that’s not even including post-grad expenses, which could raise that debt up over $100,000 for some programs.

Here’s the thing with parents who pay for tuition — the decision to pay for a child’s post-secondary schooling is made well before the child can have a say in the matter.

When my parents set up an ESP for me, I was one year old. I had multiple family members, including aunts, uncles and grandparents pitch-in to make sure I didn’t have any debt coming out of university or have financial stress during the four years I was at Laurier.

It’s a blessing from those who planned ahead and chose to help their children in this way. If someone is offered “free money” for schooling, I guarantee that almost every student would take it.

So, to go after someone for having their parents pay for schooling, when they themselves would likely take that money, is hypocritical and pointless.

Some parents don’t, however, want to pay for post-secondary for their kids. I’ve heard the argument that not paying helps young adults take more responsibility in life and to strengthen them for real life.

This is a reasonable point too, because the decision to help pay for school is up to the philosophy of the parents. If they don’t want to, or don’t believe it’s right to, that is their choice.

There’s even an automatic assumption that because someone has their parents paying for school that they have some higher level of entitlement than other students.

For some, this is true. But for the most part, it isn’t. I’ve had my parents pay for my tuition for all of university through an ESP, but I don’t brag about it or bother others who have to pay through their own means. It would be petty and rude to do that to others.

But on that point, if you have family paying for your tuition, it does not give you any kind of entitlement or right to be snobby about it.

I’ve seen situations where people have their parents pay for just about everything in university and they end up behaving entitled. If your family has gone out of their way to ensure that you don’t have any, or minimal, student debt after school, in return you can’t be openly bragging about it.

It makes you, and others who have their schooling paid for, look bad.

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