Are You A Bad Parent If You Don't Pay For University?

17/09/2012 10:35 | Updated 22 May 2015

universityBad parents make their 18-year-olds take out student loans. Good parents pay the tuition fees (up to £9,000 a year), plus living costs (a minimum of £5,000 a year). Or at least that's how it seems.

The Coalition keeps saying that the new student loans are 'progressive'. But it hasn't filtered through to the rest of us yet. It seems instead that there's a huge yawning gap opening up between the lucky ones (whose parents can pay) and the remaining 75 of what they earn over that amount. You could argue that paying back that kind of money isn't the end of the world, especially when graduates are young and single.

But once my children have got kids of their own - once they're paying rail fares to commute, and a mortgage, and hefty fuel bills, and income tax, and national insurance, and more and more money just to eat - losing even a tiny percentage of a very stretched income is going to seem impossible. As a grandmother, I'm going to be looking at my kids struggling to make ends meet, and how am I going to feel? Guilty. I'm a bad parent. I should have found the money, all those years ago, to pay the fees.

So what can you at this very late stage do if you don't want your 18-year-old to start her first ever grown-up job with a debt of over £40,000? Maybe it's time for drastic measures. If you're lucky enough to own property, you could sell up, pay off the mortgage, hope there's a bit of equity left, and pitch a tent in a friend's garden. You could turn back the clock 18 years and pay your child benefit into an ISA. You could take out a loan yourself. You could emigrate. You could persuade your bright-eyed school leaver that she doesn't want to go to university anyway because it's a waste of time and she ought to get a job (if she can find one, which is looking less and less likely), even though that would be a bit of a lie, as most employers seem to demand degrees these days.

None of those options fill me with joy.

There's a tiny crumb of comfort left. It's not too late to start saving for a deposit on a one-bedroomed flat so that, in 15 years' time, your debt-ridden 33-year-old can finally - possibly - afford to leave home.

But don't hold your breath.

Are you anxious about how students/their families will afford university?

What are you planning to do?

Does not paying for your children make you a 'bad parent'?

Or is it 'good' to let them stand on their own two feet?

Tell us what you think...


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