Exactly How Much Should We Pay?
Again, this very much depends on the family. But as said in section one, honesty is the best policy. In other words, whatever the parents decide, they should tell the child early on.
Payment can depend on factors such as how well the child does in high school. For example, if the child is a stellar student and community leader, the parent may want to pay as much as they can for college - covering the basic costs of tuition, room and board and fees. The student's responsibility is to pay for books and other expenses.
Or on the other hand, the child was a very poor student in high school. The parents may be worried that the child will not take college seriously and will waste their money. In that case, the parents could strike up a deal with the child. Perhaps the child pays for her/his own education until s/he proves to be a good student who takes college seriously. Then parents can start paying toward basic education costs.
When moms and dads think about paying for college, they should think about saving for the basics. The basics include tuition, room and board and fees. If parents don't think it's possible to save for a sleep away university then instead save for an in-state school, giving the student the option to live at home.
Parents should estimate the costs 20 years from when the child is born. For example, in the year 2000, a top tier private college was around $36,000 to $40,000 a year. As of the 2009-2010 school year, a top tier private school is around $50,000 to $55,000 annually. See how much the cost of education rises in just 10 years? Now estimate 20 years down the line. Remember: these figures are only the basics - tuition, room and board and fees. No books or other expenses.
Whatever parents decide, they should be honest and upfront with their children. Do parents pay for college? It is a matter to be decided by the family, and either way, be prepared to save early and save a lot.