Are SA students spoilt rotten?

Recently, a relative of mine, a young university student, ‘Jane’, complained that she needs a top of the range tablet because her laptop is dated.  Jane is quick to forget that a year ago she pressed her cash-strapped parents to buy her the expensive laptop.  Now she wants a top of the range tablet – disregarding her parent’s inability to buy luxuries.  She doesn’t worry where the money comes from. All she thinks of is spending that money.

According to recent media reports, Jane is not alone when it comes to students who won’t think twice about blowing their parents’ hard earned money.

‘R3 798 a month living expenses’

A survey by youth marketing and recruitment company Student Village showed that the country’s students blow up R3 768 a month (R45 000 annually) An average person in South Africa spends R25 000 annually. 

During the year 2014 South Africa’s 970 00 are expected to spend R41.1-billion. And who is going to foot this massive bill? Most parents and family members, with 14% of the money expected to come from students’ part-time work and 10% from bursaries.

 What do they spend on?

Rent is the major expense across the board.  Students also spend a lot on cellphones. It was found that black students used most of their money on petrol and car repayments. Indian students blew on entertainment. Coloured students majored on fashion and takeaways and white students spent on alcohol and cigarettes.   

More money, lower grades

Wealthy parents who shower students with too much money might be doing them a disfavour according to a study by Laura Hamilton, an assistant professor in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at the University of California at Merced. According to the study ‘the more money (in total and as a share of total college costs) that parents provide for higher education, the lower the grades their children earn.’

In other words, students who received minimum parental support had a higher grade than the ‘spoilt’ students. 

More money, higher chances of graduation

However, the study also revealed that students who got a lot of support from their parents were more likely to graduate than students who got little support from their parents who are likely to drop out of college due to lack of funds. 

Link financial support to student’s goals

Hamilton did not discourage parents from giving full support financial support to their offspring’s education, rather to set clear expectations about grades and deadlines for graduating. She also encouraged parents to focus on what they are paying for to avoid paying for non essentials. Wealthy parents should encourage students to take unpaid internships as a way of teaching them to be more responsible. 

What I leant from these studies is that as parents we should not blindly dish out cash to students. Rather we should demand accountably for every cent and also demand good grades for our hard-earned cash. 

How much financial support do you give your kids attending university or college? 

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