The next bailout: Your kids?

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As boomers are looking forward to retirement, many are realizing that their kids are broke. Many young adults get into severe credit traps while in college. Average student loans among the two-thirds of college undergraduates who have borrowed rose an estimated 5 percent in the past year along, to $22,000. Many college students also graduate with credit-card debt.

What is a parent to do? You don't want your kids to default on their loans or receive a poor credit rating, but should you be on the hook for it? Yet many parents are finding that is exactly the predicament they are in. They co-signed for school loans and now have to pay them if the kids can't.

Here are some steps you can take to get/keep your kids out of debt.

  • Look at state/city schools. Limit the debt by utilizing local schools, especially for undergraduate work. The expensive, private, schools are not the best investment for a liberal arts degree.
  • Limit borrowing. Try to have your kids earn as much of their college money as possible. Add what you have saved and try not to take loans.
  • Teach kids to live frugally. Once out of college, they may need to live modestly so they can pay down their debt. Good jobs are hard to find these days, so they have to know how to live cheap.
  • Avoid using credit cards. It is too easy to caught up in spending more than is coming in. Make sure your kids pay their balances in full so they are not paying interest.
  • Set up a repayment plan. Help your kids set up a reasonable plan to repay the debt. They have to realize that it is their responsibility, not yours.

Barbara Bartlein is the People Pro. For tips to improve your relationships, please visit: Marriage Tips.

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