How much allowance for your college bound kid?

college dorm move inWhen your son or daughter applies for educational aid from the government you first have to fill out the FAFSA, a free application which helps determine how much money you as a parent should be able to contribute towards their education. In most cases the dollar amount that you are expected to put towards his or her future is easily way more than you can actually provide.

The Wall Street Journal took a look at one of the additional expenses of sending your child off to college this fall; spending money. It's hard to believe that you'll need more money after you've already covered room and board but students realistically will need some funds to get by. The amounts which several colleges recommend students have for personal expenses are rather large, especially if all of the money comes from mom and dad. The estimates are different for every school but can go above $2,000 in some locations.

The article also looks at whether the student or the parents should be the ones footing the bill for incidentals at school. One concern they raised is that some colleges suggest students do not work their first semester in order to adjust to college life. Personally I think students should get a J-O-B; there are plenty of student jobs on campus that typically provide low hours and the ability to work around class and sports schedules while still providing spending money.
Secondly, there is no problem with being that kid who is in the dorms a lot, especially if you already dropped big bucks on a HDTV and an Xbox 360, besides there are always plenty of free or cheap events on campus to provide entertainment. With campus jobs paying at least minimum wage right now, it should be easy to take home at least 200 bucks a month only working 8 hours a week. Part of going to college is learning to budget and watch your money. $200 goes a long way on ramen noodles and college specials at local eateries; but not so far on video games and buying a round of Cuervo for the whole group.

Is this a new trend with helicopter parents? My parents would surprise me by dropping money into my checking account at times but it was supplementary to my two jobs. I am definitely not against parents providing spending money for their kids while they are in college but at the very least the student should have a token campus job to provide a portion of their income. As one of the students in the article points out, a $30 dinner at the Cheesecake factory looks entirely different when you realize it cost you a week's worth of work!

The take-away is to live within your limits, especially during college. You can still enjoy the experience without packing on credit card debt. Maybe you could even spend some of your pay on your tuition or sock it away in savings.
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