Hi, Doug Andrew Here.
A popular publication on medium.com is “The Mission,” and recently they published an article and titled it, “Don’t Pay for Your Children’s College—But There Are Other Ways to Help.”
If you have ever listened to me talk about the concept of the family bank, I firmly believe that if you allow your children to take ownership in their own education, they’ll be far better off—and they will actually have better study habits.
TAKING OWNERSHIP FOR COLLEGE TUITION
This is based on some pretty solid evidence. For example, when I was growing up, I came from a family of six. My wife also grew up in a family of six.
Our parents could not afford to pay for our college education. I worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken 30 hours a week, and I took a full load at school. I had scholarships, and I did some grants, and I also took out some student loans. I actually had pretty incredible study habits because I had to.
I was working 30 hours a week and so I was very disciplined, and I know I got better grades than a lot of my friends whose parents were just sort of shelling it out. They sort of just thought, “Well, Dad’s just writing a check out, and he’s paying for the tuition.”
Same thing happened with my wife, Sharee. She worked at a bookstore. Her parents couldn’t afford to pay for her college education, so she worked her way through college. I was just following what my siblings had to do, and she had excellent study habits, and when we graduated, we really appreciated that we had earned our way through college.
DEAR KIDS, WE’RE NOT PAYING FOR COLLEGE
When we started our family—and we have six children—we never wanted to lead them to believe that we would just pay for their college.
And we didn’t. We gave them equal opportunities, not equal distribution.
Let me explain that.
If our children wanted to have an experience, for instance, we encouraged them to have a semester abroad—if possible—in Israel and Egypt, since that’s where East meets West. We just think it’s an incredible part of the world to have them understand and learn the history, [and] also the future of that area of the world.
If they would sacrifice and save money, we would match it or loan them the money to be able to go and take advantage of a semester abroad. Three of our children took advantage of that; the other three wanted to but there was unrest going on so they couldn’t.
They also would do semesters abroad in New Zealand or what have you, but they had to sacrifice: sell their motorcycle, their car—have skin in the game. If they were short money, they would borrow from us, the family bank, and then they would show how they would pay it back.
If they couldn’t pay it back with cash, we would allow them opportunities to mow lawns or shampoo carpets in the condo or paint or whatever. This gave them a sense of ownership.
Our daughter Ashley went on this incredible semester abroad in Israel, came back after four-and-a-half months, and she was so excited. Of course, this isn’t a vacation, they have to study. She got straight As, and she said, “Mom! Dad! That was such an awesome experience, I want to go to New Zealand on a semester abroad before I graduate.”
I said, “Honey, I want you to go upstairs and fill out a Solution Formulator, and come back down in an hour, and let’s talk about it.”
Now, this is a tool we use where they go up and they write down their goal, and what they want to do, and the benefits so they get real clear. I want them to sell themselves on it. Then they write down the obstacles.
And I’ll never forget, she says, “Well, I don’t have any savings left. I’m going to graduate a semester longer than I had anticipated”
Across every obstacle, they write down the solution or the resource. For instance, “Well, I have a car. I love my car but I have equity in it. I’ll sell it and I can come up with a few thousand dollars. I can get a new car when I get back.”
“And if I graduate a semester later, it actually dovetails with this and this and this…it actually maybe works out better”
So she had a solution across from every obstacle. She came downstairs and said, “I’m sold on this. I think I need to New Zealand on a semester abroad by this date, and I’m short by $1500. Mom, Dad, could I borrow $1500 out of the family bank? And when I get back, here’s how I will pay it back. I’ll pay $500 a month for three months.”
I said, “Honey, you’re going to want a new car, why don’t you take the pressure off and just pay $300 a month over five months? Loan approved.”
Now, did you notice something?
We gave her an equal opportunity but she didn’t ask us, “Mom, Dad, will you pay for it? Can I have….?”
[Instead she said:] “Will you loan me the money? And here’s how I will pay it back.”
ALLOWING THEM TO HAVE SKIN IN THE GAME
This is why I feel like if they will have skin in the game, by getting a scholarship or saving money and you have a system to match funds or to lend them money. And then they pay it back or you give them dignity to work it off by doing yard work, instead of just thinking, “Mom and Dad will just shell it out.”
Watch how much ownership they take in getting good grades and studying hard and being proud when they graduate with that diploma.
ABUNDANT LIVING HIGHLIGHTS
Saying No to Paying for College – Saying no to paying for your children’s college can actually be saying yes to their future.
Matching Dollars or Loans – Create a system where you provide matching dollars or a low-interest loan to support your children in covering the costs of school.
Skin in the Game – By providing a “hand up rather than a handout,” you’re empowering your children to take responsibility and accountability—developing pride and confidence in what they can achieve.