Can financial help from parents of college students do more harm than good? According to a recent study, it may. The study, mentioned in a press release from the American Sociological Association, found that students who received monetary assistance from their parents were more likely to have a lower grade point average than those students whose parents gave them less money or did not give them money at all.
However, according to the press release, the study also found that students who received financial help from their parents were more likely to stay in school and graduate.
While the effect on GPA is rather small, it may come as a surprise to parents who have only the best intentions when providing their child with money.
Why does GPA Increase when Students Pay?
There could be a number of reasons behind this finding. Students receiving money from their parents may not feel as much pressure to do well in school or may participating in more frequent social activities (allowing less time for schoolwork) simply because they can afford to. Having an overall enjoyable and memorable “college experience” may be more valuable to these students than focusing solely on making the best possible grades.
Setting a Standard for GPA or Certain Expenses could Help
The study did not find the same lowering effect on GPA when students received money in the form of grants or scholarships, however, possibly because students feel as though they earned that money. Scholarships often require students to uphold a fixed GPA in order to continue receiving financial assistance.
An article published in The Washington Post discusses a College Savings Indicator study, courtesy of Fidelity Investments, in which it was found that 66 percent of parents would only fund their child’s college education if they maintained a certain GPA (the average GPA parents found acceptable was a 3.1 on a 4.0 grading scale).
Setting a standard for GPA is one way that parents can make sure their children do well in school while still receiving money for their education.
Another option is that parents could have their child pay for an agreed upon portion of their education (for example books or one class per semester). Earning money and contributing to their own college education may instill responsibility and inspire students to do well in order to prevent their hard-earned money from going to waste.
Consider your Situation
When it comes to funding a college education, there are many more factors to consider when deciding who will pay, including parents’ savings and income or how long it will take the student to pay back any loans. Decide what is best for your family but, if you do plan to pay for your child, then you may want to consider the implications found in this study.