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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: COLLEGE ALLOWANCE
By Debelli (Debelli) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 07:22 pm: Edit

For those of you who have kids already in college that live away from home, that aren't working a job, how much did you find you would send the kids each month for spending money and what-nots? Was this sufficient?

Those of you who have kids going, what amounts have you decided, if any, to give your kids each month or what do you think you may give them?

I know everyone has different economic backgrounds and some parents are able to give more freely than others, so I'm sure I'll get many answers, but just looking to see if there's a "norm" out there. My S was asking me what I was going to send him and I said I wasn't sure, we'd see how things go.

Thanks for your input!

By Mini (Mini) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 07:25 pm: Edit

What we did is have her apply her research assistantship to the tuition bill ($1,700), and put that amount into her account to spend as she will.

By Fendergirl (Fendergirl) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 07:46 pm: Edit

this is coming from a student..

i don't get an allowance at school, i never have. i started working the day after i turned 14.. and i work my butt off every summer to save up enough money to last the school year.(by the time i return to school at the end of next week, i will have worked 750+ hours this summer) since i now live in an apartment and don't have a meal plan, my parents give me about 300 dollars on my college ID card (for the whole year) that i can use towards food at the little cafe's and whatnot on campus. which lasts... not very long :) other than that, as i said, all money is supplied by myelf.

By Thumper1 (Thumper1) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 07:47 pm: Edit

DS had to earn all of his spending money at his summer job. We pay tuition and room and board (minus his merit aid). His job is to earn spending money for recreation, extra food and books, and to maintain his GPA to get his merit aid. We don't give him any allowance for spending money. He has had no trouble with this arrangement.

By Anxiousmom (Anxiousmom) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 08:05 pm: Edit

We do what Thumper1 does. It's pretty tight. Just coming up with our share of tuition room and board (minus needbased grants and merit aid) is hard enough. No way would/could I send spending money. DD earned a lot this summer and is frugal. If she runs low, she will pick up a job next semester at school. Lots of jobs available 8-10 hours per week or flex hours.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 08:29 pm: Edit

my daughter had a work study job, from that she bought her books, paid for her medication, sundries, and entertainment. She never asked us for money although we did set up a charge account at school bookstore to get books and misc items.
I also sent her a care package everyonce in while that bookstore made up, coupons for videos, cartons of ice cream. & root beer stuff like that.

By Garland (Garland) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 08:30 pm: Edit

Same as the above two. We also said he could use the outside scholarships he got for books/spending money, too. We followed the same plan with his older sister, and it worked fine.

(there's a whole thread about this from earlier this year you could search for and read, too.)

By Montmammoth (Montmammoth) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 08:33 pm: Edit

I have to agree with the previous posters. We pay tuition, room & board & books. We also supplied her computer.

I think it's important for college students to have some sense of responsibility, so we've always told our daughters that they have to earn their own college spending money through summer jobs.

There was a thread on this a month or two ago, and at least one person was of the opinion that kids had their whole lives to work, so he was essentially giving his child a free ride while in college, so he could experience other opportunities.

It's just been my personal experience that my college friends who never had to earn any of their own money never developed a good work ethic, so I've always told my children that once they turn 16, they have to have summer jobs to earn some spending money. I don't let them work during the school year, but they have to learn to work and save up some college money during the summers.

By Alwaysamom (Alwaysamom) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 08:44 pm: Edit

My daughters also use their summer job earnings for their spending money. The one who is going to school in NYC budgets about a hundred a week. Sometimes it's more than this, sometimes less, depending what's going on, or if it's time to purchase her subway pass, etc. The other one who is not in the city tends to spend less but that's just her nature, I think.

Although we don't give them spending money, when I visit I often leave them a little something before I leave. Or take them out and stock up their fridge, etc. The care packages are also always appreciated.

By Jenniferelaine (Jenniferelaine) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 08:50 pm: Edit

I got some money the day I arrived on campus, money on my birthday, and christmas.

My parents never gave me an allowance. I used the money I saved from my summer jobs. This year will be harder, however, because this summer I was unable to find work. I've been trying to find a job in my college town for over a month (it's an hour commute, not too bad).

I cover my tuition, room and board through scholarships, fin aid and loans. My parents had a nest egg for me, but it's gone.

My parents outright cover my car insurance, medications and other medical costs. They also help out some with clothing and other necessities (I accomplish this by coming home and then going shopping)

By Cheers (Cheers) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 09:04 pm: Edit

I worked from the age of 12 and turned out not to be a fan of teenage jobs. S is required to do something educational/socially worthwhile with his time. There are plenty of decades ahead for S to work and earn money. (Don't flame me please. My money. My choice).

The standard allowance ranges from $200 to $600 a month depending on parent and child. Most CC parents say their kids don't spend much money. My S isn't materially oriented, but a movie, dinner and a taxi is $40 to $50.

Both H and I have bad memories of being short of cash at college. Plus we don't want S in a great city without any money to take advantage of it. While we can afford it, S will get allowance of $400 to $600 a month.

By Dmd77 (Dmd77) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 09:11 pm: Edit

Well, I guess we have more money than most, and are more willing to hand it over to the kids, but I went through college with my parents paying only tuition and room (not food or books), and it's not something I'm willing to do to my kids. I paid for everything else with part-time jobs and a small check from the social security administration, back in the days when an old parent got a college student a check.

My son got a summer job this past summer, and the money will be his to spend as he sees fit; my daughter got an unpaid internship that may have saved us and her a boatload of time and trouble (she didn't like the field as much as she thought, and decided to change majors).

We pay tuition, room, books, health plan, and a monthly allowance of $150. They get $1840/semester for food (the cheapest food plan at Reed, where my D goes) as a lump sum when school starts, since they both prepare their own food. (My D joined a food coop; my S eats out and cooks for himself--and I guess he also goes to a lot of public meetings where food is free.) We pay for D's car and insurance; she pays for gas, although I usually give her a $20 bill (or 2) for gas when she comes home, since I like seeing her and don't want her to hesitate to come home because of the price of gas. S doesn't have a car, but does get a T pass from the college.

By Originaloog (Originaloog) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 09:34 pm: Edit

We pay room, board, health related fees and books while son is responsible for tuition, academic fees($7000+$22,000 merit aid) and spending money. We paid for his mandatory lap top($2300) as a graduation gift.

He is living on campus w/o a car and will budget $40/week for spending money. He seems to think that that will be plenty. If pep band trips end up costing significant $'s, he may have to increase that amount.

By Debelli (Debelli) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 10:14 pm: Edit

Thanks for all the input. My S didn't have a summer job, hard to find something other than volunteer work here, esp. when they know it's just for 2 months AND also that he doesn't have a drivers license, just to name a few obstacles.

S isn't one to spend a lot of money, he hates to shop and has learned how to be thrifty from me. I would think that $100 is way more than enough for the month (may even be too much). He doesn't get any allowance at home, doesn't go out too much and when he does, usually pays for it himself. He has savings from birthday and holidays, anything more than what I am able to give him, he'll have to supplement from that-I'm not able to fund ski trips and the like. Like many of you, the cost of not only tuition, but buying him all the stuff he needs for college and getting him there has put a major dent in my savings - I never even realized the cost of college BEYOND tuition!


By Grlzmom (Grlzmom) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 12:15 am: Edit

My daughter is paying her own books and spending money. We are picking up what her scholarship doesn't cover, car insurance, cell phone. I plan to help her with expenses related to coming home (gas) but that's it. She worked full time this summer, banked over $2500 and, living smartly, will be able to buy books, have some fun and still continue to save for her semester abroad. It's important that the feeling of independence extends to finances.

By Fendergirl (Fendergirl) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 12:36 am: Edit

my parents pay some of my tuition, the rest of it is a loan in my name that i will have to pay back once I graduate. other than that, i pay for my car, my car insurance, clothes, cell phone, food, entertainment, vacations, other living expenses. my laptop was my 21st birthday/christmas present plus i had to chip in 250 dollars towards it.

over this summer i work approximately 50 hours per week, and this coming school year i will be working about 25 hours per weekend at my job at home (till november) and will also be working some hours during the week at my job at school.. as well as taking 18 credits :)

gotta love my senior year..

By Pafather (Pafather) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 07:20 am: Edit

We have a similar setup with many of the posters above. We made sure all fees, insurance, books, room and board are paid for. Then I asked my son if he could try to work to earn his spending money. He did not work in high school because we thought it was a better investment of his time to try to excel at his academics and ECs (which fortunately paid off with a full-tuition scholarship). We have asked our son to make sure that working does not interfere with his ability to do well in college and to apprise us of any difficulties. We would definitely step up and pay more if necessary, but I actually think he will feel good about having responsibility for his own spending money. I am fairly confident that working 6 hours or so per week would be adequate spending money (he is fairly frugal) and he should be able to do this without affecting academics, but have told him for big items we will pay (for example, visiting us or friends at Thanksgiving or other breaks).

By Thumper1 (Thumper1) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 11:40 am: Edit

DS attends college in Boston, which can be a mighty pricey place to be entertained. He allotted $25 week on average for spending money last year. Some weeks he spent $75, other weeks he spent nothing. He said that this was not a problem money wise, and he is doing the same for this coming year. He DID look for many student discounts and used them liberally. This is important (e.g. Boston Symphony College card is $25 and all you have to do is show up on Thursday mornings to get your tickets for the open rehearsal for that day or additional cost...ds did this almost every week). His friends wanted to try some pricey restaurants around Boston and wisely found that lunch was much less expensive than they would go out on Saturdays BEFORE the evening events...if they ate out at all. Sometimes they only went for dessert. It can be very expensive to live in a city with all of its amenities, but it can be done on a budget. So...estimated spending money per year...uner $2000 including books. He was able to earn that this summer. Oh...and he also participated in a prestigious summer program for five weeks...his employer was VERY understanding and willing to work within that schedule. Working and good summer programs don't necessarily have to mutually exclusive. We really encouraged the summer program participation also.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 12:00 pm: Edit

I also want to add that much entertainment can be had for free/cheap. My D attends an urban ( well it is in Portland but across the river from downtown, and while going out for food is a big thing so is going to the nickel arcade,the "bins" ( goodwill or some such), Powells, biking around as well as all the really cheap student activities on campus.
Clotheswise, she doubles her closet just by sharing with friends, she has also saved money on books that way, but I would not generally recommend it if it is one of the main textbooks.
I suppose we could have alotted her an allowance, but I do consider her an adult, and she is fairly good about budgeting her money herself. I will give her money for treats/needed things so that she can save up her own money for other stuff that I don't want to know about.
Part of this I suppose is our collective ADD, while we pay bills pretty much on time, anything else it is hard to keep track of, I would never remember to send her an allowance once a week, so it is easier to take her shopping to buy a coat or take all her friends out to dinner than send $100 a month for odds and ends.
Her work study job was about 8/10 hrs a week but paid pretty well, in addition workstudy money does NOT count toward money available for finaid as summer money does as it IS finaid.
Her summer job just finished up and she is buying a new laptop which means I get to have her "old" one! cooly!

By Jjsmom (Jjsmom) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 12:27 pm: Edit

My son won a really nice national scholarship of $7000. He wanted to use $2800 to purchase a new sax, and since he's decided to minor in music, we agreed to that, though it took some "discussion" (interpretation: late night arguments!). We all agreed then that the balance will be his spending money for all 4 yrs, and that if he needs more $ he'll need to get a job to supplement. He'll also be in Boston and so he'll have to work on his budget carefully but I think this is an opportunity for a wonderful "life lesson" given his relatively sheltered life for 18 years. :)

By Jenniferpa (Jenniferpa) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 03:14 pm: Edit

While I don't know how much my daughter will spend (because that is her responsibility) we were told by a student leader at orientation that the first semester he was at college he spent almost $1000 for "incidentals". Note that this is a relatively rural school, although I'm not sure that that doesn't sometimes mean you end up spending more, rather than less. On the other hand, when I asked another student what they do for fun, I was told one of the advantages of being in this environment is that there's not much to spend your money on. She hasn't had an allowance from me since she's had a job - I'd be more than willing, but she just won't take the money. On the other hand, I do tend to "force" money on her occasionally, so it probably all balances out.

By Simba (Simba) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 04:30 pm: Edit

Reading several of these threads, I have decided to give S 'floating' allowance. I told him that next year when he goes to college, we will start with $500 in his bank account. Once a month I will check his balance and recharge it to $500.

I trust him to be frugal and after few months of data we will have pretty good idea on the exact $$ needed.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 09:48 am: Edit

D earned her own spending $$ for college during HS summers as well as this past summer (after freshman year). I think she spent about $1400 over the whole year, which comes to a little under $200/month. We pay tuition, room and board, books, cellphone, travel costs.

If she got a good unpaid intership, which would provide good experience for her, I would be perfectly comfortable supplying her spending $$. I do think it is good to have the working experience at some point -- if nothing else, working at a low-skill job over the summer gives you a much better idea of why you should go to college.

By Songman (Songman) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 10:32 am: Edit

Hey Fendergirl- Right now it may feel like you are working harder than every other student and you probabaly are...the skills you are learning however by paying your own way will help you throughtout your life in many positive ways. I for one salute you!

By Cangel (Cangel) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 10:39 am: Edit

A couple of observations - rural areas may well cost more than urban, particularly for necessities, if you have no car, and you need an antihistamine or toothpaste, and the campus store is your only option - it can get pricy.

Question - we are considering suggesting DD bank her summer earnings in an IRA, giving her a college allowance as a "reward" for this fiscal responsibility, but limiting the allowance so that she will need to work for incidental money. Also, I feel strongly that kids should not work their first semester unless it is a financial necessity or required by their aid package, I'm suggesting that she look for babysitting or other very parttime work after the first few weeks - will this strategy just assure that she gets a very poor job second semester?

By Dadofsam (Dadofsam) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 03:53 pm: Edit

We said that we would pay for tuition, fees, room, board and books, cell phone, laptop, and trips home.

We are new at the college expense business, so we said that we would start off by funding a personal expense account for $ 1000 for the first semester, which we felt would average out at $ 150 - 200 per month to cover supplies, clothing, snack, miscellaneous room stuff and entertainment, and was to include a couple of hundred dollars emergency reserve fund.

When we have a better idea of how the expenses run we'll adjust that amount. Also, S has indicated a desire to fund his own expenses by working, and we will see how that pans out.

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