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What To Do When Your College Student Asks For Spring Break Money

Written by Rebecca Hastings


Posted on February 27 2020

Parents are providing a great deal of financial support to their adult children these days. A walloping 79% of parents continue to offer monetary support to offspring ages 18 to 34. That's five billion in support a year. According to Richard Eisenberg, "the support ranges from paying for food and groceries (provided by 60% of parents of kids 18 to 34) to repaying the kids’ student loans (27% of parents). The researchers also estimate parents are paying their children’s cell phone bills to the tune of $18 billion a year."

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If your adult child is a college student, sooner or later you will need to have a talk about finances. Hopefully, this talk is well before they even start college. Preparing a budget for the first semester or quarter is ideal indicating who will pay for each item or activity.This budget should be reviewed on a regular basis. 

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The first one or two years of college, the student is typically living in a dorm (semi-dependence) with parents still in charge of paying the room and board if they can afford to. However, college students need to be able to manage their other living expenses such as travel opportunities, social events, and extracurricular activities. Where will this money come from and should parents help in this area too? 

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With spring break right around the corner, don't be surprised if your college student approaches you and asks for financial assistance. The internet is loaded with articles on how students can ask their parents for money. A favorite among some parents is the...Trade what you want for what you can do. If your college student is asking for money, they should also offer something in return. For instance, do more chores when they come home or get a better grade in a challenging subject. 

Some parents, in particular, those parents who were fortunate enough to go on spring break themselves, may see spring break as a rite of passage. While others, may see it as a waste of money. Whatever you believe, it's up to the parent to be forthright sharing thoughts for why you may or may not help support such a trip. Hopefully, your college student will honor your final decision.

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However, before rushing to a final decision, it's worth noting a recent trend developing among college students. They are using student loans and credit cards to pay for their spring break trips. After pulling all-nighters studying for final exams, many students will not hesitate to leave campus with friends not fully understanding the consequences of their actions.

Given this new direction, it may behoove parents, if it's an option, to loan or help pay for spring break trips. You would have better control over the situation and it's a much better option than students getting themselves further into debt. But what are the advantages to contributing? 

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First, you would have more of a say in where your college student travels to and what form of transportation they will use to get there. There are several destinations, you may not select because of recent robberies and spikes in violence. Furthermore, your college student's mode of transportation, a roommate's car, may not be appropriate or safe. As a non-contributing parent, you may not have an opportunity to see the condition of the car first-hand nor will you have a say in the driving arrangements.

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Second, as a parent, if you do decide to contribute, you could sit down with your college student and discuss ideas that do not include beach parties with heavy drinking. Would they consider an educational trip? As a financial contributor, you would have the opportunity to steer them in a direction that they probably have not thought of and one that may be a bit more structured and safe. As a example, they could learn to speak Spanish in Costa Rica; hike the 33 mile Chilkoot Trail from Dyea, Alaska to Lake Bennett, British Columbia, Canada learning about the Klondike Gold Rush; or travel to San Francisco and take Flying Trapeze/Aerial Arts/Juggling classes at the Circus Center.

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Third, if you do not want your college student to travel far with a group of students you really don't know, why not recommend a family trip instead. They would be happier (a much better idea than staying home) and they could take a  friend or two on the trip. Maggi McCann of Wake Forest, lists 6 Reasons Why Spring Breaking With Your Parents Is Basically Like Going To Cabo With Your Roommates. It's free, the quality of food and the fun stuff you can do were just some of the reasons.

Finally, if you are still not convinced, as a parent, that you want your college student to go on spring break with friends then consider this. Science says parents of the most successful kids do these 10 things. Number 2 is parents model and encourage good relationships. If you've done this all your life with friends and family, and encouraged your college student when they were younger to nurture their relationships with friends then they will be no different as an adult. Close satisfying relationships are associated with better health and greater happiness. And what better way to bring a group closer together than a vacation you can all enjoy. 





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