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Parent Refuses To Pay For Daughter’s Tuition Because She Dropped Out Three Times Before

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While going to college was the thing that everyone “had” to do a few years ago, many people have since realized going college may not be for everyone.

Or at least, going to college at the age of 18, without changing their major at least once, might not be for everyone.

Unfortunately, that still doesn’t give a person an endless supply of chances to figure out what they want to do as an adult, emphasized the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor angelpiez was happy to provide college funding to their three daughters without asking for it to be paid back.

But when their oldest daughter couldn’t seem to stick it out, the Original Poster (OP) thought it was time to set up some stipulations for funding.

They asked the sub:

“AITA for not paying for my daughter to start yet another degree?”

The OP’s oldest daughter had attended multiple universities. 

“My wife and I have three daughters. We always told them we would pay for their college tuition, provided they wanted to go.”

“Our eldest, ‘Hazel,’ graduated in 2018. She started at a 4-year university and lasted there 6 months before dropping out and coming home.”

“We had to eat a lot of fees because by that point they were non-refundable.”

“Her reason for dropping out was that she didn’t want to pursue that major anymore.”

“We told her she could switch to Undecided or General Studies until she did figure it out, but she insisted on dropping out.”

This cycle continued through the pandemic.

“From there, she enrolled in the local community college, which was cheaper, but as we didn’t qualify for financial aid, we were paying for all of it.”

“She stayed through until the world fell apart in 2020. She tried online schooling, but it was too hard, and we respected that. Our younger two were struggling with virtual school, so I can’t imagine how hard college was!”

“She took some time off, then in January of this year, started at another 4-year college.”

“Keep in mind, that only some of her credits were transferred. But we were supportive.”

The OP decided to support Hazel in a different way with her latest venture.

“Last month, she came to us and said she wants to drop out yet again, and go to cosmetology school.”

“I have nothing against that, but after spending tens of thousands of dollars on these other schools, she’s gotta pay her own way on this one.”

“I told her if she finishes and gets her license, I will reimburse her, but she needs to figure out how to finance it on her own.”

“She asked how she was supposed to do that, and I told her to get a job.”

Hazel was furious.

“She got upset and said I’m going back on my word.”

“It doesn’t help that this year, our middle daughter graduated, and we’re paying for her to go to a 4-year college.”

“Hazel said this isn’t fair, and I said I’d do the same to her sister if she was as wishy-washy.”

“Now, Hazel won’t talk to me.”

“AITA?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some thought the OP had been more than fair with their college funding. 

“NTA. You are being fair by choosing not to finance Hazel’s fourth college transition. Your other kids deserve college, as well, and college for three kids is not an easy task with current average tuition rates.”

“She should’ve understood the financial downsides of dropping out by now. Plus, you are still offering to pay off loans at the end of the day, so it shouldn’t matter.” – illvstrcte

“I would sit her down, show her a breakdown of what you have spent already, and tell her in no uncertain terms that she has used up her college fund. Let her know that the reimbursement offer is her 4th chance.”

“It really sounds like she is 22 but is still living in La La Land.” – Electrical-Date-3951

“Technically, they’ve paid 3 times, and she’s wanting to drop out and try #4. Six months at Uni, then Community College, and now she’s at another Uni, and wanting to drop to go to a 4th school.”

“Also, the other kids need education, too.”

“My older brother went for 3 years to a university that wasn’t cheap before dropping out. I’m 3 and a half years younger than him, and so on my 18th birthday, just after he dropped out, my mom told me that there’s no more money for me to go to school. Now I have like $60k in student loan debt (I got zero help from my family), while he has none.” – Hellmark

“NTA. Should have originally said this is a one-shot deal, but overdid yourselves by funding 3 attempts. When her money is on the line, she may have more stick-to-it-ness.” – mjf55

“NTA. Former academic advisor here. We stressed to students that changing majors several times is common and that all or most classes taken towards discarded majors can count towards their degree as elective credits. And community colleges encourage students to get the classes they plan to take approved by the school they plan to transfer to before registering.”

“Unfortunately, your daughter has squandered her time and the money you could have saved for your retirement.”

“You are doing her a big favor.”

“For future reference, many parents give their kids a minimum QPA (Qualifying Payment Amount) that they must earn to keep receiving money from the Family Bank.” – Fantastic_Nebula_835

Others didn’t see what Hazel’s concern was with the promise of future reimbursement.

“OP is also being more than fair by offering to repay her fees if she actually finishes her program this time. She has dropped out of three separate schools and caused her parents to lose thousands.”

“Maybe if her own money is on the line, she may actually be motivated to actually research programs and career paths before she dives in.” – Electrical-Date-3951

“They want her to succeed. Making her pay gives her the incentive to start and finish since it’s on her own dime for that duration.”

“If she finishes, which, by having to pay on her own, she probably will, then she’ll be compensated by OP, which is a huge privilege. Not everyone has this opportunity to get reimbursed for making a decision to work.”

“Like, it’s literally her future at stake, and all she has to do is stick by 1 thing. NTA.” – JKaldran

“My mom called it ‘skin in the game.’ My parents made me take out the maximum loans, and then when I graduated, they transferred the cash necessary to pay them off to me.”

“I ended up using some of that to pay for part of grad school (because undergrad loans have better interest rates than grad loans), and am slowly using the rest to pay off my loans (not paying them off in one lump sum helps my credit rating).” – Librarianni

“My father did something similar to what the OP is doing now. He reasoned that most kids drop out in the first year, so for the first year, I had to take out a loan (but this was a billion years ago, so $2000 for the full year of room and board and tuition at a state college), and assuming I didn’t drop out, he would pay the other 3 years.”

“When I graduated, he gave me savings bonds that almost equaled my loan amount, I think it was $1800, so if I wanted, I could pretty much pay it back right then and there.”

“However, the person at the bank recommended I pay it back monthly, as that would allow me to establish a credit history, so that’s what I did, and it did give me an excellent credit score.” – Elementary57

“The reimbursement is the biggest NTA point to me. It would be a NAH or ESH from me otherwise, but the fact that OP is basically saying, ‘Commit to this, and I will make sure you are not in debt at the start of your career over funding it,’ is about the best deal a parent can give outside of a blank check, and she has tried cashing that blank check multiple times.” – TaintBiscuit101

Some also thought this would teach Hazel to appreciate money and commitment.

“NTA. Time to be a parent. You make the rules, not Hazel.”

“She has no intention of being independent. Colleges are full of ‘permanent students’ who keep switching majors or, like Hazel, drop in and out and stay for years.”

“If she’s not talking to you, she is not begging you for money. Tough love is tough, but it’s still love, and letting Hazel walk all over you is not love.” – Malibucat48

“NTA.”

“You did pay. Three times already. She has a pattern of not finishing what she starts. I wouldn’t want to pay for a 4th shot either.”

“You didn’t say, ‘I’ll pay all schooling for all time, no matter how many different paths you take,’ and she shouldn’t pretend that you did.”

“You’re right that if she’s serious about this, she’ll pay for it since she’s now been given reassurance that you’ll reimburse her if she finishes. You’re STILL offering to pay… but only after she shows she’s serious about it and has completed it. Not before.”

“You’re being more generous than I would be at that point. You still have 2 other kids to pay for, and maybe she’ll finally understand how generous you’ve been if she has to foot the bill for once.” – jammy913

“Hazel seems to be one of those ‘forever students’ who study forever so they don’t have to ‘grow up’ and do what all adults should do, like work and provide for themselves!”

“NTA. You gave her 3 chances and she didn’t follow through on them. If she wants something, it’s time to work for it!” – CrazyMath2022

“I finally got a job because I felt like a failure to my mum who has supported me through all my wishy-washy college degree starts, and I wanted to at least cover my own costs to help out. (I live in Cali so there’s no chance I can afford to move out unfortunately but I try to pull my own weight now.)”

“Doing that made me realize I CAN do college and I CAN reach my goals, and not only that, I want to now.”

“I’ve changed my major and am working towards the goal I was too scared to actually reach for before (teaching abroad) and luckily my wishy-washy credits from before have covered most GEs (General Education Requirements) already.”

“I think their daughter has a fear of commitment/moving on into adulthood and the constant cushion behind her is keeping her from pushing herself, as it did for me.” – viichar

“While I agree that the parents are NTA, I have had the same rocky education road as Hazel.”

“I was convinced by my teacher in grade school that I was stupid and would not succeed in life and I should not even bother with the secondary level school.”

“But I did complete my secondary. But once I got to university, I started to suffer from panic attacks. I was convinced that everyone knew that I wasn’t supposed to be there. I am still phobic about entering the campus area.”

“I would start and stop studying so many different times. When I was about 25, I was diagnosed with dyscalculia, which explained my trouble with math and tests.”

“When I was 31, after a decade of menial jobs and living at home, I got a job in an office that only required language skills and a secondary degree.”

“10 years later, I own my own home, often go for training to the US, have been designated as a person with increased responsibilities, and am a trusted employee.”

“However, all my failures at university? I paid for myself, not my parents.”

“My parents always believed in me, and my dad was my biggest supporter. It was just my brain that did not have faith. But I have managed to work on my issues and paid my way through.”

“My current boss even supported my applying to university for part-time online courses. I completed 20 credits this past fall and spring semester, and since my previous attempts still count (60 credits in Chinese Studies), I have about 2-3 years to go (part-time). It is possible.” – mizmaddy

While Hazel was furious with her parents for not continuing to fund her education upfront, the subReddit thought this was an amazing opportunity for her to grow.

Her having a job and figuring out how to fund her own education would teach her independence and resourcefulness, and at the end of the day, if she succeeded, she would still be fully reimbursed and be able to go on to be a cosmetologist without any debt to her name.

It honestly sounds like a win-win situation if she can move beyond the initial funding.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.