Q&A: A reader’s college funding rules

Dear Liz: I’d like to share with other parents how my husband and I paid for college for our two daughters. We had three rules. 1. If an out-of-state or private college was chosen, then they would be required to pay us back the difference compared to an in-state public school. They both did opt for that and both paid us back every cent. 2. We would only pay for four years and not one more day. Get in, get out. Go to summer school and work jobs. 3. They would receive a monthly allowance of $100 only. Both daughters got a fabulous education, are grateful and felt they had invested in their future well. So did we and we are very proud of them.

Answer: As well you should be! Obviously, many parents can’t afford to be nearly as generous with their kids, but those who can be should think about putting limits on their generosity to make sure their progeny are motivated to get the most out of their education. One caveat: Getting a degree in four years has become increasingly difficult at many public colleges because of budget cuts. You don’t say when your daughters graduated, but today’s parents may need to keep that in mind when figuring out how much to contribute.

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