Internet Drags Dad Angry at Family for Keeping Secret College Fund for His Daughter

One couple thought they were doing the right thing by creating a secret college fund for their niece, Shelby. But when they finally told Shelby about the fund, her dad "hit the roof."

Shelby's aunt and uncle are now worried they were wrong for keeping the college fund a secret; however, Redditors have come to their defense and are dragging Shelby's "deadbeat" dad.

In the popular Reddit forum, "Am I The A**hole," the aunt—posting anonymously under the username u/Longjumping_Bat8931—asked Redditors: "[Am I the a**hole] for not telling my [brother-in-law] about the college account we have for his daughter?" The post has collected nearly 10,000 votes.

She explained at the beginning of her post that her husband Robert has a brother named Samuel, who has a 17-year-old daughter named Shelby.

"Shelby's mom and Samuel split up when Shelby was three. Samuel has never been a very enthusiastic father and did not file for custody. He gets visitation and pays court-ordered child support," she said.

Several years ago, Samuel told Robert that he hadn't set aside college money for Shelby. When they heard this, Robert and his wife decided to start a college fund for their niece.

"We started putting money aside each year and we invested it well so now the account has almost $35k in it. We didn't tell anyone about the account because we didn't know how much we would be able to save and we didn't want Shelby to count on money that wouldn't be there," the aunt said.

She also shared that, a couple of years ago, Samuel lost his job. But when Robert asked him about it, Samuel said he was "enjoying having some time off." So, they didn't think much of it. Eventually, Samuel found a new job and has been there ever since.

Last month, Shelby began looking at colleges, so her aunt and uncle decided to tell her about her college fund.

For those who would also like to set aside college money for a niece, nephew or grandchild, Kiplinger suggested opening a 529 college-savings plan. The student's name and social security number are necessary in order to make them the beneficiary of the account, so it's best to wait until after they're born to open the account.

"The money in the 529 can be used tax-free for college costs, and you may be able to get a state tax break, depending on where you live," said Kiplinger.

Shelby was excited to learn about the fund, but Samuel was angry.

"Samuel hit the roof," the aunt said in her post. "He called Robert and screamed at him about how he could really have used that money to pay his child support while he was unemployed."

"Then Robert's mom called and started screaming too. Apparently, Robert's parents were actually making Samuel's child support payments while Samuel was unemployed, even though they are retired and on a fixed income," she continued.

"Nobody ever told us that, and Samuel never asked us for a loan or anything. He seemed really nonchalant about not having a job."

Now, Robert and his wife feel guilty about keeping the college fund a secret.

But commenters were quick to defend the couple and argued that Samuel and his parents were in the wrong.

"NTA [not the a**hole]. That money is for college not child support," said u/nickfarr. "I'm shocked how everyone is giving the BIL a pass for being a deadbeat dad and nobody is praising you for giving the poor child an opportunity for a better future."

"NTA. Your BIL owes his parents the money they paid on his behalf. That has nothing to do with you or the money you saved," commented u/marinvcxvgbd.

Redditor u/Crazy-kittycat-lady added: "NTA. You and your husband are not responsible for his brother. It is not your husband's fault his parents were covering child support payments. They should be mad at your BIL because he was so nonchalant about not having a job. It is unfortunate for them, but not in any way you or your husband's fault."

"F the brother. He is a selfish leech," said u/Electrical-Date-3951. "OP [original poster] & her husband did a great kindness for his daughter—obviously NTA. Any responsible and loving parent would be super grateful. But, the brother is all for himself."

Newsweek reached out to u/Longjumping_Bat8931 for comment.

college savings
One couple thought they were doing the right thing by creating a secret college fund for their niece, Shelby. The aunt and uncle were able to save about $35,000 for their niece. designer491/istock