Like I’ve said a zillion times – incentives matter, and there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

“The group of college students least likely to report engaging in risky behavior (drinking, binge drinking, marijuana use and smoking) were those who contributed the most, financially, to their own education.”

Here’s the whole article:

It may be possible to provide too much support to your college-age children — too much financial support, at least.

Researchers from the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University wondered whether the degree to which parents provided financial support to their college students had any impact on these emerging adults’ “beliefs, behaviors and identity development.” In their paper “Affording Emerging Adulthood” (published in the Journal of Adult Development) the researchers describe finding distinct patterns among parents: those who provided minimal financial support to their children in college; those who provided nearly full support; and those who supported their children jointly with the students’ own efforts (paying, for example, for tuition and books but not personal expenses, or the other way around).

The researchers found a striking correlation: the group of college students least likely to report engaging in risky behavior (drinking, binge drinking, marijuana use and smoking) were those who contributed the most, financially, to their own education. Those students were also more likely to identify strongly with their future occupational identity — the ultimate goal of their degree. To Laura Padilla-Walker, who led the study, and her colleagues this suggests that the level of parental financial support provided to college students may be an important factor in determining whether they flourish or flounder at their academic pursuits.

Dr. Padilla-Walker points out that there are other risks for students who are responsible for paying for most, or all, of their higher education costs: it takes them longer to finish, and they’re more likely to fail to graduate. Correlation is also not causation — the children’s behaviors could shape their parents’ financial support, rather than the other way around. The studied group also skewed heavily toward white, middle-class families, and was entirely composed of students attending four-year colleges.

Still, she hopes parents trying to determine how much financial support, and what kind, to provide for their college students will take these findings into account. “Parents don’t need to feel like they have to pay for everything,” she said. “It actually might do their kids some good to take on a little of that responsibility for themselves.”

And the link.

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