Most parents in this day and age have spent years saving for their children’s college educations and want to provide as much financial support as possible to their children while they complete their degrees to ensure their success later in life. But a new study by UC Merced sociology professor Laura Hamilton showed that providing financial support to children might influence a their grades negatively. According to the study, titled “More Is More or More Is Less? Parent Financial Investments During College,” the more money parents gave their children to help with college, the lower their children’s grades.
Dr. Hamilton’s study, for which she compiled data from the Baccalaureate and Beyond Study, the Beginning Postsecondary Students Study, and the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, showed that this trend was less common at elite institutions than at other out-of-state colleges. The study also showed that students whose parents financed their education were more likely to graduate, so though their GPAs were lower overall, most still completed college. These results weren’t surprising to Dr. Hamilton, as many students have to leave college for financial reasons.
“There were some affluent families who thought their children were spoiled and didn’t pay the whole cost, and there were some families who had scrimped and saved and borrowed from family members and taken out loans,” Dr. Hamilton reported to the New York Times. “And the affluent families aren’t hurt the most by the lower grades, because they had the connections to call the head of NBC or the NFL and get their child a job. It’s more of a problem for the middle-class parents, who worked hard to pay the college costs, used up their retirement funds and are out of money by graduation time.”
Dr. Hamilton encouraged parents to speak to their child about their expectations for his or her education. The students with the lowest grades, Dr. Hamilton found in her study, were those whose parents paid for their educations without discussing the students’ responsibilities towards their degrees, so the importance of speaking to college-aged children about personal responsibility towards their own education can’t be understated. In this way, parents who fund their kids’ educations can still support their endeavors, but make it clear that a college education is a privilege and responsibility to be taken seriously.