When it Comes to College Costs, More Grandparents Are Chipping In

Forget sending $20 for instant ramen. Today's grandparents are ponying up for big tuition bills.

It looks like the days of grandma mailing a $20 bill once a semester so you have some extra ramen noodle money could soon be over. According to a recent survey from MetLife, nearly a third of grandparents are chipping in to help pay those soaring college tuition bills.

The survey found that 29 percent of grandparents have paid an average of $8,726 for their grandchildren's education. While some are footing the bill for preschool through high school education what's more common is for grandma and grandpa to be "paying for all or part of a grandchild’s college tuition or college loans" and 7 percent of grandparents are helping out with post-graduation student loans or helping pay for all or part of the cost of attending graduate school.

The grandparents surveyed said they're providing more financial support to their grandchildren now because of "current economic conditions." Part of what's also driving this generosity is that the majority of grandparents see going to college as a value they want to pass on to their grandchildren.

However, by the time the average student gets to college, their grandparents are either on the verge of retirement or have already retired and are living on a fixed income. Indeed, 34 percent of grandparents say they're helping their grandkids out financially "even though they believe their generosity is negatively affecting their own finances." The study warns that if grandparents keep giving so much to their grandchilden, "they may someday be financially dependent upon these loved ones, which isn't such a gift in the long run."

Photo via (cc) Flickr user rkeefer

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