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I hate my unborn children

Girl Ninja isn’t even pregnant (sorry Mom-Ninja-in-law), but I’m pretty sure I already hate our unborn children. Or at least, that’s the way society might see it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll definitely love the heck out of those little ninja’s, but I wont love them enough to jeopardize my and Girl Ninja’s future. In other words, it will be a cold day in you know where before I take out a loan to help fund their college education.

I punched debt in the face back in June 2010, and as of this moment, I have absolutely ZERO desire to finance anything ever again (except a house of course). You think I’m going to let my kids’ change my mind!? Heck to the No I wont!

That said, I DO plan on my children going to college. In fact, they really only have two options post high school: 1) Move out and get a job or 2) Move out and go to college.

Since I refuse to take out a loan for their college education, but I desperately want them to go, I have to figure out a way to reconcile those goals.

The first, and most obvious objective, is to begin saving for their college education long before they plan to attend. College has never snuck up on anybody…ever. So why do we allow people to pretend like it does? I know, the day Baby Ninja is born, I have an 18 year countdown to college. Seems like enough time to make something happen. With 529’s, ESA’s, and prepaid tuition options, there is little excuse for not looking ahead.

Even if I don’t have the liquidity to fund my children’s education, I sure as heck wont go in to debt to make it happen. If my kid wants to go to a private school and can’t get enough loans or scholarships to pay his way, guess what? My kid ain’t going to private school. There will be no entitlement in the Ninja household. I just don’t get how parents can take out $50,000 parent loans so their kid can go to some obscure private school in the middle of Arkansas that nobody’s ever heard of.

With public school tuition and junior college tuition being as cheap as it is (compared to private school tuition), coupled with the various savings plans/scholarships/student loans, there really is no reason Girl Ninja and I would have to take out a loan for our kid to get a four year degree. So why do you think people do it?

Do you know any parents (or kid’s whose parents) funded their childs’ education with parent loans or 2nd mortgages? Would you ever take out a loan to pay for your child’s college experience?



  1. I agree 100%. I’m hispanic…minority..though soon we will become the majority? :S….and I went to a public university, I received a bit of help from a Pell Grant but mostly I got a scholarship (for good grades in high school), I worked a part time job (it IS doable) and I took out $7k in private loans over my 4 years.
    I will never finance my future child’s education. Let him/her earn their way. I will instill the importance of higher education but letting them pay their way through their hard work is a very valuable life lesson. I hate hearing of parents who sacrifice so much to have a college fund. IT’S NOT NECESSARY! Send them to a good public university and let them break a sweat!!

  2. Well my little Ninja, even if we did not take out a second mortage the payments for your private school were more than our mortgage payment. You did not seem to mindus helping in that way but of course with the tone of this post dadninja and I will gladly accept payback at anytime in monthly installments…ok enough kidding.

    Only time will tell what you will or won’t do for your childs education once the child exits so I will save this blog post in case I can use it against you later!

    • Oh momz, I didn’t say I wouldn’t pay for my kids education. I said I wouldn’t take out a loan to pay for my kids education. Which to my knowledge you did not do 🙂

  3. Pretty sketchy title man. I agree with moms, not sure what I will and won’t do until it gets here. I would like to think we would be prepared. Only time will tell.

  4. 1. Section 529 plan.
    2. State schools are just as good as private ones. My degrees are from the State Universities of NY (Stony Brook) and NJ (Rutgers).
    3. Do not let kids sleep on toilet seats. People sometimes forget to flush.

  5. I envision setting up a perpetuity for the juicers. A perpetuity is something that will pay out forever. Say I budget $100 per month for a juicer, then I will have $1200 (per year) / 0.04 (percent) = $30000, in the juicer fund. Then at age 18, they get the principle and get to decide what to do.

    Work Less Live More has more information about the ideas of a perpetuity. The beauty that I like is that there is always a fall back, if I lose an income stream, at least theoretically and based on historical data.

  6. Ninja, although my situation is slightly different (being Canadian and all), I received some help my first year for the tuition and residence fees form my mom…but not my dad. My parents split when I was 15.

    That being said I worked part time during my initial stint, took a co-op course so I had paid work time for experience and cash and put together everything I could from government assistance and scholarship monies. I managed to endure two audit processes during school, paying back every single dime myself prior to the end of school – guestimating your income can be difficult sometimes and when you make more than you think you are going to the government wants to overpayment on the loans back. In total I owed $20,000 to the government for loans. I paid $10,000 back due to audits, before I was even done my program.

    The rest of the $10,000 I had help with from my grandparents, with a private loan from them. They paid the government back before interest started, and I paid them back the agreed amount, the rest being a graduation gift to me.

    How did I find $10,000 while I was in school? I didn’t use everything from those loans to live on. I did a budget, took into account rent, food, cable/telephone/internet, insurance, and some money for entertainment, and train tickets to and from school for work, and I put the rest into GIC’s to hide and grow while I worked my butt off in school. I also had the fortune of being able to save like crazy during my work terms, by living at home.

    The government/bank people were shocked when I marched in to pay the lump sums of the audit repayment amounts without batting an eye or taking out more loans.

    It can be done. And I think it makes you appreciate things more because you are doing it for you. I watched others behaviour during school, those lucky to have their parents pay for things. I watched them crash their expensive – parent-funded- cars, get license suspensions, party too hard and end up on Academic Probation, and listen to them whine when mommy and daddy couldn’t buy their way out of an F in a class. I kept thinking they were so lucky to have parents that could afford to pay for them to be there, while I worked my tail off every day to stay both academically and financially. I’ll tell you though, I’ve run into some since, and I wouldn’t trade lives with them in a heart beat.

  7. I might be the odd one out here but my I paid for more than half my own education by working part-time jobs — both before I started university — and during school. I wrote a post about it not too long ago. Basically my parents were in the position to pay my way but felt that good old-fashioned “work ethic” needed to be developed. I thank them for it every day. Now granted, school is cheaper in Canada (but then again, we pay more tax…) and I really worked way too much. I worked about 30 hours a week while going to school full time. And I really had nothing. Mostly I was too proud to call my parents when I ran out of money and would just eat out of a can. But, this is where my frugality was forged. So it taught me something valuable.

  8. When I went to college in 2005, my parents paid for my tuition and first two years of room and board without taking out any debt. After some hard times, I had to cover my living expenses for the last 1.5 years of college. I worked part time and took out a little loan to help float me through the last months. To me, taking out $15k (gulp) in loans was a better alternative than delaying graduation. I entered the workforce in January of 2009, so maybe another year would have helped! The economy sure sucked back then.

    Where I stand now is that I will not raise my children to believe that we will foot their entire bill for college. Move out, go to college and your mom and I will help with what we’ve saved for your education, but you need to work and get some additional responsibility. Even if we had a couple of Mil in the bank, I still think we would instruct our children to get jobs to work through school. I like what my parents did, they paid for tuition (“we won’t pay for anything less than a B!”) but I was responsible for my living expenses.

  9. Just a note – that should be *in state* public schools. I knew someone who was paying more to go to UCSC than his brother was to go to Stanford.

  10. I have split thoughts on parents paying for their kids education. On the one hand, I never felt like it was my parents responsibility to pay for mine, (and they didn’t) and so I left school feeling like it would not be my responsibility to pay for my kids education. I would help a bit, like my parents who would pay for my books, but my parents expected me to work and take a loan for the rest. So what happened was I despised the thought of taking a load, I worked like a dog up to 40 hours per week (while going to school) and thus I hated school and did worse and worse.
    So now I have my own little boy, he’s almost 4 and I do not want him to have to go into debt or work so hard that he fails out of school. So I am putting aside a bit every month to save for school. The government gives Canadians $100 per month per child until 6 yrs old, so I figure that’s his money and it goes in his education fund. And then he gets his money from family at Christmas and Birthdays. He already has a pretty healthy fund.
    So when it comes school time, I do not plan to take a loan for him, but I do hope to have enough saved that he can go to school and work the rest off on his onw and not have to work like a dog like I did.

  11. I totally disagree. My dad told me something powerful when I was a freshman in high school:

    “If you get into Harvard, or Yale, or Cornell, or any other prestigious school — I WILL find a way to pay for it. You focus on getting that acceptance letter.”

    It was a powerful and fantastic thing to hear. And while I never got accepted to an elite school, knowing that I COULD afford to go helped motivate me to excel and learn.

  12. When you say you won’t take out loans, does that mean you won’t take out a Parent PLUS loan even your kid will repay it?

    Private school tuition is crazy, but public school tuition isn’t a walk in the park. My cheap state school costs $9,000 a year in tuition. Add another $9,000 if you want to live on campus. Even with the (admittedly few because I was lazy) scholarships I got, I would be in a world of hurt if my dad refused to sign for a PLUS loan.

    • No PLUS loans here. I’m not a fan of cosigning, and that is exactly what a PLUS loan does. If my kid defaults on his loans, the bank comes after me for the money.

      • Actually, PLUS loans are (legally) the parent’s sole responsibility. ;). But your decision remains the same!

  13. My best friend’s parents took out loans for her college, I can’t remember if they expected her to help pay them back, however. Maybe parents do it because they feel bad they didn’t save more?! My dad helped pay, for sure, but he definitely didn’t go into any debt for it. (Which is actually a good thing since he DID have to go into debt to help pay for my grandmother’s end of life care which cost upwards of $3,000/month!!!) So I agree with you – no debt for my possible future children’s college education – but I will save what I can, early & often.

  14. Jane 2.0 is fortunate enough to have parents who married later in life and the week she was born started saving for her college education. We’d not take loans out, but we won’t have to. 7 years till she starts college and we have 4 yrs tuition banked right now. We plan to punch the mortgage in the face (i like the idea) before then, so if the college account doesn’t keep up with cost, we’ll be able to cover it from income.
    And not having to (a) pay mortgage, (b) save for college, or (c) save for retirement kinda means we’ve been living on a fraction of our income now, and retirement should be easy.

  15. One could always consider government service and get most any college — public or private — paid for. Everyone has heard of ROTC if you’re willing for military service. But scholarships like the Department of Defense’s SMART scholarship are for civilians and give you jobs, too.

  16. My parents saved up some money for my sisters and me, but it wasn’t nearly enough. So, that money helped, but they did co-sign our loans. They also maybe made a few interest payments on our loans while we were in school. But now those loans are completely our responsibility. Technically, they’re still cosigners, but we will still pay them off ourselves.

    I don’t think I’d take out loans for my kids. Maybe I’ll cosign. But I’ll definitely push them towards scholarships and other ways of paying for school.

      • I know that both people are technically responsible for a co-signed loan. I’ve heard horror stories about either the student or the parents defaulting. But my hope is that I raise my kids to be responsible and do the right thing.

  17. I got a good laugh out of momninja chiming in! I agree with the post. When I was 18 my dad told me if I wanted to go to college I’d better join the army. That’s what I did. I got the GI Bill benefits and some pretty good pay, which I saved and financed college with. I don’t know if I’ll put my kids (5 of them) in the same position, because I’d rather not have them end up in Iraq or some other god-forsaken place, but I’m certainly not going to finance college. They’ll have to get creative and do that on their own, and it will (hopefully) teach them to work for and plan for the big important things in life. Good post, as always. Thanks.

  18. Private schools were less expensive for me than public once aid and scholarships were figured in. I was also VERY smart in high school and attractive to many schools willing to pay to get me. Our state system couldn’t afford to pay as much. My DH also went to a top private school because it was less expensive than the state flagship.

    And, I have to say that the quality of our educations was a heck of a lot better than the ones our undergrads get at the flagship state school at which we teach (though probably equally good as a UMichigan or a UC… not all public unis are equally high quality).

    To sum: If you’ve got smart kids, let them apply to their dream schools in addition to state. You may be pleasantly surprised. Especially if government keeps stripping away state funding for things like financial aid at state schools.

  19. I am always confused by “this is what i’ll do when…” discussions because I strongly suspect that people often behave differently once they’re looking at their own kid, and know who they are as a person, and change themselves after 18 years of being a parent.

    I don’t have kids, but my opinion on the subject of paying for education is this: it depends. It depends on the personality of that kid and whether you trust them with your signature. It depends on their ability to manage work and studies. It depends on their (dis)abilities. It depends on how much you can reasonably contribute given your life circumstances. It depends on what they want to study and the additional costs associated with that program. It depends on whether the program is in/out of province (Canadian here!) or international. It depends whether they are living with you. I don’t see why I would have a firm policy without knowing all these things, and meeting my kids, and seeing what the world was like for our family in (insert year here). Why not just plan to save what you can, and then as your kid approaches university age, you’ll see? My parents never told us one way or the other how university was going to happen… only that we were going! 😉 There were 5 of us, and we all funded university in different ways, because we were different people at different stages of the family development. We also all graduated from our undergrads debt free (those of us who got Master’s or professional degrees [3/5 to date] notsomuch! 😉

    • I think this post is more about financial planning than “this is what I’ll do when…” Ninja sometimes has a hard time getting his point across smoothly.

  20. I think I’d make an exception for an ivy league school myself. I wrote a whole post on how you should take care of yourself first before even putting a penny into junior’s college fund. This is the absolute last thing on my list as well.

    Now that I have kids of my own, I buy them more stuff than I expected to. I’m a big softie.

  21. My mom offered me discounted rent when I graduated high school if I decided to attend a local university. It was definitely a big help. She told us years before that she would not co-sign on any student loans. Knowing the expectations, I plan ahead.

    We do plan on having some savings set aside for college for our daughter to cover for a solid state university. She wants to go to an expensive private school on student loans, she’s free to do so – she will have to sign those loan papers by herself.

  22. I wonder why so few parents put so little responsibility on the child to pay (or at least help pay) for college. Many students coast through because Mom and Dad are paying for it. When students pay for their own education, they often make it a higher priority. (People I know who have taught in post-secondary education tell me this.) Hubby and I have determined that any children we might have (which, at this point will probably be zero, but that’s a whole different story) will need to pay for at least half of their post-secondary education.

  23. The way things are going lately, public instate schools may cost the same or more than private in the future.

  24. It has been a very long time since I was financing my own education but aren’t parents required to take on (or cosign) certain federal loans? I had no parental help and remember applying for private loans because I could only take out so much in federal loans if my parents were unwilling to sign on.

    I was turned down for the private loans by the way – didn’t have the income required. It took me years and years and years to get my BA by paying for it bit by bit with job earnings (while I was a part-time student), scholarships, and some federal loans. But the whole process sucked and took so long! Although I do think the student is ultimately is resposible for his education (including its financing), I think I would do whatever it took to help my kids out.

  25. No one said anything about the prepaid tuition yet? ESA’s good, 529’s good. Prepaid tuition, bad. The tuition inflation rate is about 7%. For an 18-year investment, you can do better than a 7% return. Also watch out with _state_ 529’s. They’re usually prepaid tuition for a state school system (horrible ROI) and states have managed them so poorly that they are having difficulty honoring what the prepaid tuitions thus far. My state, TN, comes to mind here.

  26. 100% agreed. Most of my family paid for our educations via the military. We’ll help our kids out with expenses, encourage them to join the military; heck we might even save enough to pay in full (still debating), but we will *never* take out a loan ourselves. That’s just not how we operate.

  27. What I find interesting is the insistance that my child WILL go to college – what if your child wants to be a hairdresser. Or a plumber (In Australia these courses are covered by apprenticeships and Techinical colleges or TAFE) University is not the be all and end all. Nor do I think it is vital that it happens straight out from high school – who really knows what they want to be at 18? I’m not saying uni is bad – far from it, but I think it depends on your child and what makes them happy and fufilled. Would it be the end of the world if they went and got a job in shop?

    Also well said Jessie – who know what the future will bring.

  28. I worked four jobs to put myself through university. I started volunteering full-time at 15 so that I could get paid work the following summer. I worked at grocery stores, libraries, in my university residence and as a bartender for weddings and parties, in addition to getting scholarships. The only money I got from my parents was a $300 loan to buy a TV after the one I had died (I paid it off in three months). That’s not exactly true, they gave me their tax returns after claiming my school expenses.

    We started putting money away for both of my boys’ educations when they turned one (they’re now 4 and 2). With a modest ROI we should have around 60-70K per child. Though I hope that they’ll be able to make their own money so that their funds can continue to be invested through their university years and they can take huge advantage of compounding interest as they get older.

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