He Says: We can't afford to pay for our daughter's college

Dr. Manuel P. Santos and Karee Santos

Our daughter is in high school, and Mary and I don’t have the income sufficient to set up a college fund. I paid for my own college education with part-time jobs, and I think our daughter should do the same. I am not willing to take on debt at this age – she has years to make up the money; we do not.

She Says: We should take out loans

Mark and I both went to college in a time when it was possible to pay for it with a student job. But times have changed. I think we owe it to our daughter to help her out by signing Parent-Plus loans to partially fund her school expenses. 

What do they do? 

College costs have skyrocketed in recent years, and student loan debt has risen along with them. There is a dizzying array of financing options – enough to overwhelm any parent. The short answer to this dilemma is research as if it all depends on you and pray as if it all depends on God.

Many colleges offer financial aid packages, and federal student aid can take the form of outright grants, loans to the student (rather than the parents) or work-study, which provides part-time employment. Parent-Plus loans, which allow the parents to borrow money for their child’s education, are another option.

The bigger question here is not about college, but about Mark and Mary’s shared vision of parenting and financial planning – two of the issues that often cause trouble in marriages. This is a good time for them to sit down together and take stock. They need to ask themselves:

  • What do we think our financial obligations are to our children? Do we want to fund education? Help with down payments on houses?
  • Do we believe in leaving money as an inheritance?
  • What are our shared retirement goals? (You may want to meet with a financial planner if you have not done so.)
  • Consider your expectations for where and how you will live in the upcoming years or whether you anticipate increased travel.
  • Make time to pray together so that you are allowing God to guide you in all your decisions.