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Parental financial support could hurt student grades


Friday, January 18, 2013

Many high school seniors expect to receive some financial help from their parents in order to pay for college. The amount of money parents contribute to their child's college education can have a considerable impact on the amount of debt the student will take on. However, a new study claims that parental financial support may actually hurt a student's grades, according to education news Web site Inside Higher Ed.

Laura Hamilton, an assistant professor in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at the University of California at Merced compiled information from three federal databases and cross-referenced it with student grades and the level of parental financing. She found that in many cases, the more money a student's parents paid toward their education, the worse the student's grades were.

Key findings of the study indicate that parental college financing serves as a “moral hazard,” in which students become less invested in their studies due to the fact that they have not taken on any financial burden of their own. However, Hamilton also found that the “ impact of high levels of parental financial support was mitigated or eliminated by parents who set clear expectations for their children about grades, graduating on time or other issues.”

While expectation-free financial support may negatively impact student grades, the long-range consequence may be decreased financial literacy. According to researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, parents have many opportunities to teach their children about the value of money.

“Parents don't need special knowledge or skills to prepare their kids for financial success,” said Michal Grinstein-Weiss, lead author of a recent study. “Routine family life is rich with opportunities to teach them the ins and outs of money matters.”

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