Parents Stir Debate After Spending Daughter's College Tuition

A couple stirred debate online after spending their daughter's college tuition money on a kitchen renovation after she decided to drop out and move in with her boyfriend.

The Original Poster (OP), known as u/particular-bar9216, asked for advice about the situation in Reddit's "Am I The A**hole" forum where it received nearly 14,000 upvotes and 4,000 comments. The post can be found here.

Conversations About Money

Neale Godfrey, a New York Times No. 1 Best-Selling author and the founder of Children's Financial Network, recommends parents start talking to children about financial expectations and responsibility early in life to avoid similar situations.

"There has to be a conversation around an agreement," Godfrey told Newsweek.

Couple talks to daughter about finances
Here, a stock image of a couple talking to their daughter about finances. Many commenters said the OP had every right to spend his daughter's tuition money on a kitchen renovation, but others said he should have saved the money. Hemera Technologies/iStock

She also said that parents should not leave the conversation "open-ended" because "then you have expectations that are not met."

For example, if parents know they cannot afford to send their child to a private four-year college, they need to have a conversation with their children early on and suggest other options such as a community college.

"Do not wait until the kid is applying to college," Godfrey said. "Come clean with the kids when they're young. Get them involved in saving for the future when they're, say, 10 years old. Talk about it."

She added that kids should also bare some responsibility when it comes to their college tuition, whether they get a part-time job or take AP classes to receive credits and scholarships.

Regardless of the approach, Godfrey said it is important to have the conversation to save the child from having expectations that are not feasible.

'AITA?'

In the post titled "AITA for spending my daughter's tuition money?" the OP said their 20-year-old daughter decided to go back to college after a year off.

"She dropped out of college a few months saying it wasn't for her," the post read. "We adamantly advised against it but she ended up moving in with her boyfriend and started working in his family's restaurant business."

The OP said they set a little more than $30,000 for her tuition, but they decided to use the money for a kitchen remodel that he and his wife have been wanting.

"Well now my daughter has decided to go back to college because it didn't work out with her boyfriend and she didn't like any of the jobs she had following that," the post read.

The OP said his daughter was "shocked" that they used the money even though the three of them discussed it before she dropped out.

Before she moved in with her boyfriend, she asked if she could have access to her tuition account, but the OP and his wife said no.

"We explicitly said no and said that was saved for her tuition only and nothing else and that if she left we'd use it for something else," the post read. "She said she thought we were bluffing and didn't actually mean it and that we need to help her pay for college since we are still paying for her younger brother's yearly tuition."

The OP told her to pick a community college rather than a state school and get a part-time job to afford to go back to school.

But now, their daughter is ignoring their phone calls and his wife suggested that they should help her out financially.

"But we're nearing our retirement age and a little behind our retirement goals so I don't want to take away from our savings just because my daughter made some bad choices," the post read. "I feel like I have given her good alternatives and even offered to let her stay at our house free of rent so she can just focus on paying for college. AITA?"

Redditor Reactions

Nearly 4,000 users commented on the post, many applauding the couple for telling their daughter they would not pay for her to go back to college.

"This situation is harsh on your daughter, but NTA," one user commented. "She made a decision to drop out, and with that came you telling her that you'd use the remaining college fund money for something else...she just [learned] a very expensive lesson."

"NTA. You laid out what would happen, and it happened," another commented. "I understand her sadness over it, but I also don't think it's insane to have her complete her associates at a community college, then maybe revisit the matter?"

"Are you an AH? Technically no, because you did tell her. But are you a WISE parent who acted in the best interest of their child? Also no," another user commented.

"NTA—that was a gift and she didn't use it lol and her way of responding to the situation just shows how ungrateful she is," another commented.

"NTA, I guess, since it is your money and you did warn her," another commented. "I would not have touched it so soon, she's only 20 now, let alone how old she was when dropping out, her brain isn't done developing, you have to expect her to make stupid mistakes. Teens evolved to do so. But, your money, not hers, so, yeah."

But other users said the parents were wrong for spending all of the money they saved for a renovation.

"Idk...I actually think YTA for not having the foresight or consideration that she might regret the boyfriend thing and spending the money that quickly," one user commented.

"YTA. 20 year olds need time, guidance, and patience," another commented. "If you saved the money for her tuition, you should have given her a grace period of at least a year to make sure she really wasn't going back. More importantly, 30k for a kitchen remodelling [sic] is insane!"

"Yes. YTA. You saved for your daughter's education for 18 years yet you didn't hesitate to put the money to other uses the moment she diverted from a traditional education path," another commented. "If you truly meant the money for her education, you could have held it for her in case she returned to school in the future."

Other Viral Posts

In another viral Reddit post, commenters debated whether a couple was wrong for refusing to pay their son's tuition after he came out to the entire family.

Another parent was dragged online for choosing to pay his stepson's tuition rather than his biological daughter's. One teen was supported after she expected her uncle to pay for her tuition after her father died.

Newsweek reached out to u/particular-bar9216 for comment. We could not verify the details of the case.

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