Education versus no education

One of things I kill time doing online is looking at blogs and discussions boards where folks discuss frugal living, it seems without fail the issue of student loans comes up. I am amazed at the number of folks who claim there is no value in paying for an education and as a result have no desire to pay for their own kid to go to college. Often these folks figure if their kid wants to go to college, said kid will find a way to make it happen.

Look, college costs may be a tad inflated, hell even the value of having a degree is not quite what it used to be but I always want to scream at these folks, have you ever lived a life where you had to support you and a kid without an education? I have and it was not pretty at all.

Elder boy was born when I was 19, for less than a year I received government assistance but as I have written in the past, I found it be such a demoralizing experience that as soon as I was able to work, I did. When my son was 2 there was a time I was working 3 jobs to put food on the table, as a high dropout at that time there was not exactly a ton of high paying gigs available. When he turned 3, I was able to secure a decent job that at that time paid well but when you have no education, a good paying job is not always something you can count on….they come and go. Just ask those folks in Michigan who have been living with the decline of the auto industry. Guys and gals who started off at a plant at 18 or 19 and put in years, enough to secure the middle class dream only to see now that the dream is gone.

I know what you are thinking, but what about the college educated folks who are in the same boat? Well the beauty of education is that if done right it can lead to many paths and for better or worse we live in a time where a piece of paper that says BA or BS still has power.

Ok, BGIM you may be thinking but why should I have to pay for my kid to get a degree? Well because child rearing doesn’t stop at 18. Maybe its because my son is less than a year away from turning 18, maybe its because I did put myself through school and will be saddled with student loan debt until I retire but for me personally I can’t see saying sorry kiddo you are 18, you figure it out.

Even in my po dunk ass state, tuition plus room and board (main campus is almost 4 hours from me so elder boy can’t commute) still costs damn near twenty thousand!!!! I don’t know about you but what sort of gig do you expect a 18 or 19 year old to get that can pay those costs and still have time to actually attend a class and maybe even study? Even  a summer gig at 40 hours a week isn’t going to add up to that sort of cash.

Now I know what you may be thinking but what about my retirement? True, you should be concerned about your retirement but maybe a better step is thinking about the cost of kids when you are doing your family planning and no I am not trying to be snarky. The reality is if you only have 1-2 kids it might be a heck of a lot easier to help your kid with college than if you have say 4-5 kids.

Personally while elder boy has no college fund I fully expect that just as I have always figured out a way to pay for things, we will figure out a way to help with college costs. In fact its funny that when baby girl starts school next year, elder boy starts college, so guess the daycare money will get moved to the college payment fund.

As parents we want the best for our kids and starting life struggling in many cases is not the best, yes at 18 they are legal adults but as someone whose own parents took that approach I can say it sucked monkey balls.

However there are options aside from college that are cheaper and they include the military, Americorps (kid can earn valauble work experience plus cash for college) , plus if you have decent community colleges a kid can always start there. Or if the kid is eager to get in the work world, there is always trade school but whatever you do, don’t just tell an 18 yo they are on their own. Its one of the few things my own folks did that still pisses me off.

I am a firm beleiver that having an education gives you options in life, I come across too many women in relationships where they never finished their education, don’t have recent job skills and in many cases feel trapped because they hate their partners but have no way to provide for themselves. I have my days where I hate the student loan debts I have but I know that if for whatever reason the Spousal Unit and I parted ways, that I have the ability to take care of me and my kids. I may have to leave Maine but education gave me options that many years ago I didn’t have…even now I have been able to use my education to do multiple things to earn money. Yes, there is always someone who earns plenty without a degree but in many cases those folks are exceptions.

So think about it, what kind of life do you want for your kids?

9 thoughts on “Education versus no education”

  1. Oh I have so much to say on this subject but I just can’t get to this at the moment. The short of it is that 1) we don’t believe a college degree means one is educated 2) that yes, incurring college debt can close just as many doors as not having a degree is thought to have 3) that absolutely, parents should help their kids pay for their education beyond age 18.

  2. Amy, please come back when you have time. I probably should have added that no I don’t think a degree means you are educated…the most intelligent person I know is my father who never set foot in a traditional college. (he did end up in seminary though) He was a man with a lifelong love of learning, that said he has always struggled financially because despite being well read and educated, the lack of a formal education especially as a Black man meant doors were closed for him.

    I also agree that student loan debt can close doors, after all its hard to follow your bliss when Sallie Mae wants her monthly money on the 10 year plan.

    Yet time and again and having the parents I had, I know personally that education can be a tool to lift families out of poverty. My grandfather was a sharecropper in rural Arkansas, among his children and grandchildren those that went to college were able to break the cycle of poverty.

    I speak a lot about my own financial woes, most due to my own incompetence with money when I should have been saving years ago. No, even as broke as I am it is in no way like the life I grew up with as a kid. The life my 3 yo has is vastly different than what my son had in part because I am in a different place in many ways.

    I like to think I was a pretty bright person before I ever set foot in a college, I have always been an avid reader but none of that mattered much when I needed to earn enough money to live off of. Sadly the degree makes a statement for better or worse…anyway I am babbling, its late.

  3. my parents had 6 kids–told us all through our childhood how we HAD to go to college–but then offered us NOTHING to help us do so. i didn’t want to go into debt at 18, so i put off school, & i never heard the end of it. i tried to get grants & scholarships, but because my parents made so much money, i didn’t qualify. my other sibs didn’t mind the debt &/or worked their butts off to get through college. i wasn’t so determined. i really want more school & hope to eventually get a second chance at it. meanwhile, i have already started investment portfolios for both of my boys so they can have the future they want.

  4. my parents had 6 kids–told us all through our childhood how we HAD to go to college–but then offered us NOTHING to help us do so. i didn’t want to go into debt at 18, so i put off school, & i never heard the end of it. i tried to get grants & scholarships, but because my parents made so much money, i didn’t qualify. my other sibs didn’t mind the debt &/or worked their butts off to get through college. i wasn’t so determined. i really want more school & hope to eventually get a second chance at it. meanwhile, i have already started investment portfolios for both of my boys so i can help them have the future they want.

    • Em, your folks sound a lot like my folks…told me it was important to go but provided no way to go…grumble, grumble. I did eventually go but the debt load is staggering (over 100K for both undergrad and grad) and it was hard to do as an adult with a kid. I think maybe its because of the way things were for me that I have the attitude about school that I do.

      I must admit I wake up in cold sweats often trying to figure out how I will be paying for school next year for my boy. Thankfully he is a good student and the schools he is looking at aren’t too crazy…so I am praying that it all works out.

  5. My mom put effort into helping my older brother pay for college, but not for me. By the time she got to me 8 years later, she said she was too tired (she was a single mom from the time I was 3 years old until my senior year in high school) to be filling out FAFSAs and trying to negotiate the minefields of student loans and paying for college. So I ended up loading up on loans and landing myself in crazy looking debt. Thankfully I’ve managed to pay a good chunk of it off and avoided giving my first born to Sallie Mae.

    I do plan on saving for our future children’s college, but I also know that I won’t be able to cover all of it. I will help the very best way I can to make the debt load easier to bear.

  6. So think about it, what kind of life do you want for your kids?

    I don’t want my kids to have debt like I did when I finished my undergrad…that much I do know. I got student loans and grants easily because my parents didn’t have money. I plan to be in a decent income bracket 12 yrs from now so my son will have trouble qualifying for the same reason em connell mentioned above.

    College costs are skyrocketing so my goal is that my kids will take after their parent’s athletic abilities and get a scholarship or simply be above avg in intelligence and get an academic scholarship.

    I know a small handful of friends who finished their undergrad degrees debt free so now they have extra income to help their family and parents out. That is my long-term goal…help my kids so they can actually afford to help me when I get older.

    I was told by parents who could afford to help their kids out but decided against it that college-aged kids respect their education and passing classes more when they have to work for it instead of it being handed to them. I guess it depends on the person.

  7. OK, for some reason, bloglines is not updating blogs I read properly! So I just saw this yesterday!

    That being said, I will help my kids as much as I can with college. My mom helped both my brother and I. He finished, I didn’t. There is a huge difference in the life he leads and the life I lead.

    Part of it is personality, since I’m “crunchy”, etc. But a huge part of it is the salary gap that comes from having a degree versus not having one.

    I didn’t feel it so much while DH was still in the military and we had a cozier lifestyle. But now? Ouch.

  8. you are prob alot like my mom. Both of you believe ( know) the power of education .

    My mom would always say to me ” Samantha, not all ppl are like me. Some would rather get their hair done, nails done, nice cars and house than care about what their kids do. ..But I wont live forever”.

    I didn’t get it then, but I sure as heck get it now. Even after messing up in school ( some ppl have to feel to learn, she says).

    Those kids who don’t get parental support will just have to be extra smart about debt management and paying things off. Comm college first, then university. All public, unless a scholarship is given. Find a good adviser who is familiar with this type of situation.

    Best of luck to them…..

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