Members of a popular internet forum have offered stern advice to a mother who detailed her reluctance to face thousands of dollars for her stepson’s tuition.
In a viral Reddit post posted to r/AmITheA**hole, Redditor u/tuitionloan (otherwise known as the original poster, or OP) said her husband had requested a substantial loan to cover his 18-year-old son’s first college payments. year. and explained why she refused to oblige.
Entitled, “[Am I the a**hole] for not having given my 18 years[-year-old] stepson my 4[-year-old] my daughter’s money?” the post received over 5,500 votes and 900 comments in the last day.
Writing that she and her husband have been married for five years, the original poster stated that she has two stepchildren and a 4-year-old daughter. The original poster also stated that the couple kept finances separate, for a reason.
“My eldest stepson graduated a few weeks ago…he never wanted to go to just one school which happens to be a very specialized and therefore very expensive university out of state,” OP wrote. “My husband’s business went bankrupt a few years ago…so paying his son’s tuition out of pocket is just not an option.”
“Unfortunately for his son-in-law, he has recently been focused on his new girlfriend and not on his academics and scholarships,” OP continued. “After dodging the financial conversations and the scholarship conversations…he finally came out and asked his dad how he was going to pay the tuition.”
“Husband told her there were no funds for college,” OP added. “Now the whole family is upset that my son-in-law may not be able to go to the school of his choice.”
After breaking the news to her son, however, the original poster said her husband had come to ask her for money with a promise of money back.
“Our four-year-old daughter turned out to have a college fund and an investment account,” OP wrote. “Because of the seriousness of this whole tuition and college explosion situation, my husband now thinks we should pay for my son-in-law’s stuff with my daughter’s money and he will pay me back .”
“The problem is that I already gave a lot of money to my husband for other things and never got it back, so I said no,” OP added.
Although the original poster states that her son-in-law’s annual tuition is approximately $25,000 per year, the cost of tuition alone does not equal the full cost of a year at the university.
Currently in the United States, an average out-of-state student will pay $27,023 in tuition, according to the Education Data Initiative. However, the average cost of a year in college, including books, supplies, and other daily living expenses, is over $35,000.
Multiplied over four years (or more), this can be a massive financial undertaking for parents, biological or not.
A step-parent’s responsibility to contribute to their step-child’s secondary education is a hotly debated topic on the internet.
While some parents in forums like StepTalk claimed they knew they would need to help pay for their stepson’s college, and also that they rose to the occasion, to other in-laws echoed the original poster’s reluctance to do so.
Earlier this year, Slate published an advice column responding to a nervous mother-in-law about her legal obligation to contribute to college funds for her two stepchildren.
Noting that many financial aid applications, like the FAFSA, consider all household income when awarding aid to promising students, the mother-in-law said she never expected to pay for two more college studies.
Responding to the concerned mother-in-law, Slate’s financial advice columnist Elizabeth Spiers explained that some colleges and universities offer personalized financial aid programs that don’t accommodate non-custodial parents, even when they live in the same household as the applying student.
Beyond legal obligations, Spires also explained that despite the pressure to contribute, there is a perfectly ethical explanation for separating finances, especially when it comes to getting a stepson through college.
“I don’t believe you have an ethical obligation to pay for your stepchildren’s tuition,” Spiers wrote. “There is no shame in worrying about this or having to take care of yourself in these circumstances.”
Throughout the comments section of the original poster’s viral thread, many Redditors offered a similar perspective and pointed to her husband’s financial background as vindication.
“You gave your husband a lot of money that he never paid back,” Redditor u/Whitestaunton commented, receiving nearly 2,000 votes. “Here’s your answer, if you give that money, you’ll never see it again.”
“Your husband hasn’t settled college funding for his older children,” they added. “Why would you trust him to be in charge of your daughter’s college fund? [?]”
In the lead comment to the post, which received nearly 10,000 votes, Redditor u/BuildABeaver took a more aggressive approach.
“Protect this money at all costs,” they wrote. “Change any passwords you need, call the bank and make sure you’re the only one who can access them.”
Newsweek contacted u/tuitionloan for comment.