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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

The Big Q Blog

Graduate holding a diploma that says

Graduate holding a diploma that says "debt"

Paying For College—Who Should Take Responsibility?

To pay increased costs for Kevin's tuition, his parents would have to push back their retirement.

Kevin is enjoying his sophomore year at a small, private university on the east coast. He has good friends, he’s close with his professors, and he is involved with a community service club on campus. He also works 20 hours a week for dining services to defray the cost of his room and board. Unfortunately, however, he has just learned that a scholarship he received for the first two years won't be renewed, and his tuition money will take a big hit.

When Kevin chose this college, his parents had agreed to pay for his schooling; however, in order to afford the increased cost, they would have to push back their retirement, working years past when they intended to stop.

Kevin is already working the maximum number of hours he's allowed.  Assuming he can't find scholarships to cover the rest, should he be expected to attend a cheaper, state college? Or should Kevin’s parents be expected to make the sacrifice?

Further Information:

Framework for Ethical Decision Making 
Student Debt and the Importance of College