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Teen Livid After Parents Plan To Sell Her Car To Cover Older Sister’s Tuition If She Loses Scholarship

people shaking hands and exchanging car keys
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When is a gift not really a gift?

Apparently when the gift giver needs money. Or at least that’s what it looked like to Reddit when a father turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Comfortable_Art_4673 asked:

“AITA if I sell my youngest daughter’s car to help cover my oldest’s tuition?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“I am a 55-year-old male, my daughters are 21, female and 17, female. My oldest is finishing up her junior year of college at a very good school.”

“We are all very proud of her. She has a full-ride academic scholarship that is dependent on her GPA.”

“Well, she says based on her current grades, after this semester her GPA will dip below the cutoff, and after extensive back and forth on the phone with the school, they say it is contractual and we will be obligated to pay next year’s tuition.”

“If she gets her GPA back above the threshold next semester, we can apparently ‘readdress’ the situation to determine if her scholarship can be reinstated for the final semester of school.”

“When I tell you we bent over backwards trying to find a solution before we came to the one we did… we’ve done the math, and she can’t get her grades up with how much of the semester is left.”

“She also can’t take enough credits during the summer based on how the summer classes are structured to raise her GPA high enough even if she got As, and the school refuses to make any exceptions.”

“Of course, we were upset with her for allowing this to happen, and we had a long talk with her, and she’s upset at herself too. But she’s a very smart kid who really struggled with her mental health from sophomore year into junior year, and it affected her grades.”

“Under no circumstance did we want her to leave college with only one year left. That just truly would not be fair to her after how hard she has worked.”

“For my youngest’s 17th birthday back in December, we got her a brand new Toyota Rav4. This was somewhat a gift for the fact that she has also been working really hard in school and getting great grades.”

“She’s finishing up her junior year as well, and has begun the application process for college. The car was a big deal. And she was very happy to have it, and has been driving it non-stop.”

“Well, this week, her mom and I sat her down and told her that we’re very sorry but if we can’t find another solution, we have to sell her car to help cover oldest’s tuition—mind you, the cost of this car will cover probably 1/3 of the tuition for one full year after FAFSA, probably less with the value depreciation.”

“She became extremely upset, and told us that it was unfair we were ‘rewarding’ our oldest for failing and ‘punishing’ her for succeeding, and ‘who’s car would se sell if the same happened to her?’.”

“But, we never wanted her to feel punished, or for our oldest to feel rewarded. It’s just the reality of what we need to do right now.”

“If the same happened to her, we would do everything in our power to help.”

“So, please tell me if I would be an a**hole for selling the car.”

In comments, the OP disclosed the oldest had a substantial college fund.

“Once she got the scholarship, he emptied it and used the money to buy the youngest her car and put the rest of the money into paying off his mortgage.”

The OP summed up their situation.

“I have not taken the action yet, but I might be the a**hole if I sell my daughter’s car to cover my older daughter’s college tuition because she was given that car as a gift for working hard, and my oldest daughter let her grades slip.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors unanimously declared the OP was the a**hole (YTA).

“YTA or would be. You can’t rob Peter to pay Paul. If you sell that car, the youngest will resent you forever.”

“Also, how do you have the money to buy a 17-year-old a brand-new car and not have enough for tuition? What were you going to do for her education fund?” ~ RashestHippo

“My sisters had my dad and mom to help with college. My mom died when I was a high school senior.”

“I worked 40 hours a week and went to school full time and took out student loans. One time, I was short $3k and needed my father’s help.”

“He gave it, but then used it against me as many times as he could. Never did that to my sisters.”

“It’s is one of many reasons I am no contact with my dad. YTA.” ~ TheDarkHelmet1985

“My mom used my college fund to send my sister to a fancy boarding school for high school. I went to public school for high school and had nothing for college.”

“That’s one of many reasons I’m NC with my mom. I’ve got a list a mile long. YTA. I’m 45 and still feel the sting.”

“She favored me briefly when I was pregnant with my son, the first grandchild. My sister—the golden child—said ‘Mom’s acting really weird. She’s being mean. I don’t know what’s wrong with her’.”

“I laughed, because it had finally switched. It didn’t last long.” ~ Liss78

“YTA. Why can’t your eldest child get a job to support herself? And/or take out student loans?”

“It is not fair to penalise your youngest child in favour of their sister. If you do it, be prepared for her to go low to no contact with you as soon as she is able.”

“She will resent you, and deservedly so. It’s not her fault that her sister’s GPA isn’t currently good enough for financial support.”

“And you really are rewarding eldest’s failure and punishing youngest’s success. There’s no two ways about it.”

“Also, you gave the car as a gift. That is now your youngest daughter’s car to sell or to keep.”

“It is no longer yours. Don’t try to rob Peter to pay Paul.” ~ JaneDoe_83

“That car was a gift only 4 months ago. I would be PISSED if my parents took back a gift after only a few months because my sibling did something wrong.”

“Did they have to buy her a new car? No. But it is also a good, reliable car that will last for ten years or more and not be super expensive to maintain.”

“So, a really good choice for someone’s first car. My parents bought each of us a good (admittedly used) car late in high school for us to use at college, and all of them lasted through college years and beyond.” ~ One_Ad_704

“Why didn’t they help the oldest get help when she was struggling? YTA OP.” ~ wylietrix

“OP, YTA. You sent your eldest to a ridiculously expensive school that you couldn’t cover and just prayed that her scholarship would see her through.”

“You spent way too much on an overpriced gift for your 17yo that you really couldn’t afford.”

“You didn’t ensure your eldest was supported during school so her needs were taken care of, some of which might have included moving school to something less stressful.”

“You’re willing to screw over your youngest to manage this situation with your eldest.”

“Cannot say YTA enough. But here you are.”

“So maybe try:”

“a) get a lawyer and have them review the contract with the school”

“b) have your eldest get a part-time job”

“c) see a financial advisor and have them help you plan for this. You may need a mortgage or second mortgage.”

“You may need to downgrade your own car. You may need to move house. You may need to file bankruptcy.”

“What you can’t do is steal your foolish gift back to cover your own stupidity.” ~ Special_Lemon1487

“I had (not full ride, but significant) academic scholarships… they give a grace period usually. One semester, my GPA dropped under the cut-off for the scholarships.”

“They notified me before the start of next semester that if I didn’t improve them that semester I would lose the scholarship. They don’t just pull the rug out from under you.”

“I guarantee the older daughter has known about this for longer than she’s telling the parents. YTA.” ~ somehorsegirl

“YTA. Your eldest can take out education loans for her last year. And you can take out parental loans if needed.”

“That is what most students do. She can also seek a part-time job. There is no reason or justification for taking away the car you gifted your younger child.” ~ thirdtryisthecharm

“My parents used my college fund to pay for my sister’s extravagant wedding. I was 17. She was 23.”

“Back then, loans were strictly need based and I couldn’t get enough and my scholarship wasn’t enough to cover my dream school. I went to a state school with aid and a scholarship and it turned out fine.”

“But I’m 50 now and it’s still a wound in my soul. Every so often, I wonder about the alternate path I almost went down.” ~ itsasecretidentity

“YTA—your eldest screwed up her scholarship, and you are making your youngest pay for it. Your eldest has to pay for her own mistake, even if it means dropping out.”

“If you can help her, great, but it’s not on your younger kid to provide the funds. Also, if you can’t pay one year of eldest’s tuition, younger may need funds for her own college which is right around the corner.”

“The car is an asset she can use for her own schooling if needs be. In no circumstances should you take back a gift from the younger child because you want to save elder from her own mistake.”

“Eldest knew the terms of her scholarship—every academic scholarship has a GPA minimum, everyone knows that. She didn’t work hard enough for whatever reason—none of which have anything to do with her younger sister.”

“The car was a gift for working hard, and you now want to monetize it to help the kid that didn’t work hard enough? How grossly unfair and unkind to your younger daughter.” ~ Shoddy-Teach3981

The car may have been an extravagant purchase the OP really couldn’t afford, but once the gift was given, it shouldn’t be taken back to cover someone else’s mistakes.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.