Parents’ help may hurt student grades

by Kia Farhang

Parents who pay for college may not be as helpful as they think.

Students who obtain financial assistance from their parents graduate at higher rates but with lower GPAs than students who do not, according to a recent study.

The research comes at a time when state and federal governments are allocating fewer resources to higher education while simultaneously trumpeting the importance of a college degree.

The study concludes parental funding enables students to operate at the bare minimum academically. Laura Hamilton, the author of the study, suggested well-funded students often have no stipulation attached to their parents' money and aren’t required to maintain the grade point average expected of those who receive certain grants and scholarships.

These students often graduate at higher rates than other students, however. Hamilton told Inside Higher Ed no matter how well students perform, they won’t graduate if they can’t pay their bills.

Hamilton said she also believes that parental funding is not as detrimental as her study makes it look. The real problem is a lack of communication between parents and students, specifically concerning goals and expectations. She advocated a more open dialogue between both parties and a focus on goals rather than simply handing students a blank check.