Tuition Over Retirement? Where Parents Are Placing Their Priorities

Tuition Over Retirement? Where Parents Are Placing Their Priorities

No parent likes to see her children struggle—especially when there’s something she can do to alleviate the pain.

New research reveals just how far many moms and dads are prepared to go to protect their kids—even if it jeopardizes their own well-being.


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According to a survey by T. Rowe Price, 52% of parents say they’d prioritize saving for their kids’ college education before saving for their own retirement.

Meanwhile, 49% of parents would be willing to extend their time in the rat race if it meant their children would benefit: Half would delay retirement, and half would pick up a second or third part-time position to pay for their kids' tuition.

The survey—which polled 2,000 adults with kids 15 and under—didn’t examine parents’ specific motives for sacrificing their own retirement security to fund their kids’ education. But it’s likely that many have seen the scary headlines about massive student loan burdens. (The average borrower leaves college owing about $30,000.)

The survey results also suggest that parents may want to shield their kids from the same financial problems they experienced: 44% of parents who took out student loans for themselves said their payments have hindered their ability to save for their golden years.

The problem, of course, is that while repaying student loans might be difficult, you simply can’t take out a loan to fund your retirement. And with Social Security funds running out and pension plans becoming increasingly rare, saving on your own is that much more crucial.

If you’re worried about the cost of your kid’s college education, your best bet is to start saving early. And remember to be honest and open with your children about the family’s ability to pay for college—you just might be surprised by how understanding they are.


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