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Misconceptions When Parents Pay for Your College

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Murray State chapter.

Yes, my parents pay for my college. No, that does not make me lazy, entitled, or unmotivated. No matter how I dance around the subject, I’ll come off as a spoiled, entitled brat to someone. And, I’m okay with that because I understand the combination of choices, hard work, and dumb luck that have landed me in this position.

My parents pay for my college, they always said that and, three semesters in, they are holding true to that promise. I’m not going to deny that there are people who don’t think about money because their parents will put anything in their account. But I don’t jet off across the country for a private education where tuition alone nears the seven-digit mark. I go to school at Murray State University where the slogan reads “Opportunity Afforded”. Because of MSU’s regional tuition program, as a Missouri resident, I receive a tuition discount that puts me somewhere between in and out-of-state costs. The bottom line is: Murray is a relatively cheaper university, to begin with, especially considering I am not a Kentucky resident. Would you be surprised rural Western Kentucky wasn’t my top pick?

(Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash)

Imagine sixteen-year-old me, pink hair and braces, going on her first college tour. I had not even heard of Murray State at this time. I stepped foot on the campus of a private university with just over 1,000 students, and it felt like home. A liberal arts school with classes almost as diverse as its student body was what I always imagined college to be. Everything was right about it until it came down to the finances. $60,000 a year, not even including housing, books, meals, etc. A four-year stay at that cost would put a dent in anyone’s pocket. Between financial aid and scholarships, maybe my parents could have swung it. But, I didn’t want them to have to do that. With two other children (both still in college at that time) to also provide for, I didn’t want to make that kind of dent. So I kept looking at schools with a better price, and that’s how I stumbled upon MSU.

What drew me in the most is, upon admission, I would automatically be granted an Academic Achievement scholarship, providing 80% coverage of my tuition plus a semesterly $750 stipend to go towards housing, books, etc. 80% of my already discounted out-of-state tuition was getting covered because of my high school GPA and ACT score, 4.0 and 30, respectively. I’ve never been lazy when it comes to school, and it’s insulting for someone to suggest I’m lazy purely on the basis that I have the blessing of not paying for my education. “School is your job,” I can still hear my mom telling me as a child. Show up on time and put in your best effort. One job has never been enough for me, though. I like to be busy. I’ve worked since I was 16, took a break during my first year of college, and got a job on campus at the end of the spring semester. I don’t get an allowance nor handed material objects, but I get an education. The money I make at minimum wage jobs is my spending money, and I’ve built a savings account from the ground up.

If my article about how to accept receiving a ‘B’ as a 4.0 student told anything, I set monumentally high expectations for myself. Anything less than a 4.0 doesn’t feel good enough, and I work hard to maintain that because school doesn’t always come the easiest to me. But the satisfaction of ending a semester, knowing I worked long days and longer nights to earn it, with a 4.0, there is no greater sense of accomplishment for me. And, I do all of this because my parents pay for my college. I don’t get paid for these good grades. Making them proud, making them feel their money is well spent, is what drives my need for success. I don’t skip class because that feels like throwing away their money. I do this for them. Their support of my education is the only incentive I need to do well.

Everyone’s background and personal situation are different. The expectation in my family was to attend and graduate college. My parents and grandparents valued higher education so greatly, they wanted to provide it for us. If that makes me lazy, entitled, or unmotivated, fine. I know how far I’ve come to get here: graduating a year early, maintaining a 4.0, involved in multiple organizations, and still employed. I’m not afraid to admit lady luck has played a role. I got handed a set of circumstances to put me in the position I am in today. There will always be someone better or worse off than you. But putting blanket statements over an entire set of people, just because there might exist someone who is lazy, unmotivated and entitled all while their parents pay for their education, is not a fair assumption.

Allison Hine

Murray State '20

Allison is a psychology major at Murray State University and can be easily spotted across campus by her purple hair. As a St. Louis native, she loves Ted Drewes and will certainly ask where you went to high school. She's been riding horses for over eight years and hopes to someday afford a horse of her own. But, her Pitbull, Piccolo, will do for now. When she's not talking about her dog, Allison can usually be found binging the latest shows on Hulu and Netflix (her favorites at the moment are Station 19 and Glee (again)).