‘Our Parents Would Pay For Our Education – As Much As We Could Take’

If you were lucky enough to go to college or grad school, someone paid for it. We’ve invited readers to share their stories of financing education. V. is from England: 

“For me, the cost of education started way before university—my brother, my sister and I all went to private school from 4 to 18, which at its most expensive was £18000 a year, way more than university. (Uni fees here are about £3000 tuition for my cohort—they’ve since gone up.)

“It was always made very clear that the rule in our house was that our parents would pay for our education—as much of it as we could take. All three of us had our tuition and living costs completely covered by our parents (including a really generous lifestyle allowance, holidays, travel, books, clothes…) I’m now 20 and in my final year of university and I’ve never had a job (though I have a job offer for after I graduate based on an internship). My parents are also buying each of us our first house/flat—my brother and sister have already moved into theirs.”

“I suppose the reason I wanted to share this story of obscene privilege is that it’s been weird for me reading other people’s tales of paying for college, in which they describe situations which would seem quite austere to the people I grew up with, but who are so aware of their own privilege and how much more they have than others. I don’t really know what to do about the immensity of my good luck—especially when I know that it’s based on a system of hideous inequality. Being ‘the rich girl’ (although I’m by no means from the richest family in my year of about a hundred) can be quite a strange experience when you’ve done nothing to deserve it.”

How did you go to school? (Or, support yourself after high school?) logan@thebillfold.com

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13 Comments / Post A Comment

oiseau (#1,830)

That is amazing – wish my parents could have provided something similar.

… I am sort of waiting to hear from the commenters who like to say that rich people are boring, dull, jaded, and unhappy with their lives. Are you any of these things, anonymous contributor? Somehow I doubt it-!

wearitcounts (#772)

@oiseau agreed re: the commenters, although i hope that they don’t. this person put it all out there honestly in the effort to be transparent about her financial situation, and i don’t think that deserves vitriol.

olivia (#1,618)

@oiseau I don’t think people will be bitter, because the person recognizes how lucky they are. I don’t blame rich kids for having rich parents anymore than I blame poor kids for having poor parents. The only thing that annoys me is when people don’t recognize their privilege. My parents paid for my entire undergrad degree and I realize I am super lucky to not have a ton of debt/had to work a ton in undergrad.

kellyography (#250)

@oiseau I don’t think rich people are dull or jaded or unhappy. Unlike the saying, I think money can definitely buy happiness (or at least, a level of comfort and contentment that I will likely never experience!).

On one hand, I think it’s really easy to say “I’m so lucky,” without actually realizing exactly how lucky you are – without ever having experienced a life where you are totally on your own, nobody can bail you out, an “I will never own a home or much of anything, and free samples of microwave popcorn is what’s for dinner every night this week” kind of life. Conversely, in certain crowds it is very brave to come out and say, “I am a rich kid, I have tons of privilege,” so good on this girl for laying it out there like it is.

highjump (#39)

Wow. I come from a very different background and I started out reading this kind of jealous but now I feel…awed? Like, who would I even be if I had gotten to go to private prep school and had university paid for and gotten a house? Would I even know me?

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@highjump Agree. This is just one of those things where another person’s experience is so alien to my experience, that there’s really nothing I can say about it. Although it is an interesting quirk that private prep school there costs more than university! (Whhyyyy can’t America have nice things like that?)

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@highjump Right Katie, America has expensive university AND expensive private school. I used to ride to work past a grade school that costs about $23,000. That’s not even high school!
I like this writer. This is how her life is, she seems to appreciate it, the end. Even if she has a house paid for, she still has to go through the ups and downs of every day life like the rest of us.

“I don’t really know what to do about the immensity of my good luck—especially when I know that it’s based on a system of hideous inequality.” … Maybe you could use your position of relative privilege to help those don’t have it? It’s hard for people who spend so much of their time just earning the means to scrape by to really do anything substantial to gain real escape velocity, yet somehow society expects them to do just that. It’s a lot easier to move up when you have a hand helping you than when you just having keep trying to get there by endlessly shoving a pile of shit underneath you and climbing on top, especially when everyone else you know is trying to shovel their own hill from the same pile of shit. You say you’ve done nothing to deserve what you have and I think that really you’ve only done nothing THUS FAR and maybe now you could start to pay it back? (I think this maybe this is coming off as judge-y and mean but I truly mean it sincerely – the window of opportunity to not only recognize your privilege but USE IT for good hasn’t closed by any means. It’s great you had what you did – I had similar benefits to and I’ve come to realize that just feeling badly about it doesn’t help anyone).

@Mary-Lynn Bragg@twitter It’s a structural problem. “Using what you have for good” is fine, but better is to change the system so it doesn’t lead to certain people accumulating vast wealth while others starve. What bothers me when I hear about privilege like this is not how cushy it sounds in comparison to my own debt-ridden, middle-class lifestyle, but how awful and unfair it is that some people live that way while many others live in actual, genuine poverty.

Anyway, bring on the next £10bn in benefit cuts, toffs!

@stuffisthings Who better to change the structure than the very people who are part of it? That’s what I mean by use what you have for good. If you have that privilege you know “how the system works” and what I’m saying is that instead of just acknowledging it and hand-wringing this person could certain lead that change from within. Which is much easier to do than from outside of it. This person is part of the class that owns the system. They know the rules, have access to the other players and don’t have to worry about the fallout (as much) from blowing it up. It’s much easier to take down a structure when you have keys to the front door, the receptionist knows your name and you know where the weak points are because you’ve seen the drawings.

hopelessshade (#580)

My parents worked to put themselves through college and now are education-funders for me and my brother and sister. I want to pay for grad school myself, but as I’m over-educated and under-experienced, I’ve been essentially unemployed since I graduated…

Will Murphy (#2,255)

My wife was essentially in the same situation. She is from a country in Latin America and wanted to study in the states, where he education was paid for outright and her necessary expenses covered. One thing she did that I really admire her for is worked as much as she could during these years to supplement it as best she could.

I suppose it all comes down to the needs of the individual. If she wanted to work in a highly competitive field, or stay in the states, she probably would have been working internships and the lot, but out of guilt(?) took a job at Starbucks.

Unfortunately for her, she married into my students loans. The only burden I married into is a westie.

MostlyInference (#2,448)

Hey there V!

I think if you can be a good person, you’re doing your job and deserve whatever good comes your way.

Just because you have resources doesn’t mean you should be expected to be a better person than other people are. Be a good person, and you’re good to go.

However, on the class-warfare front, you could take measures to use your gifts (whatever they may be, and whatever your class background: talents, time, ideas, etc.) to contribute in a positive way to this world. Just as should be expected of everyone else. Your particular position, as others have pointed out, gives you the opportunity & freedom to make those contributions in a more significant and concerted way then say, someone who for example feels they have to take a corporate job as a lawyer doing the most value-negative things they can imagine in order to pay off a crushing debt. Or someone exhausting themselves working for peanuts because they don’t get those high-paying jobs (but still work 10-times as hard).

Contribute in a positive way to society and you fulfill your civic duty. Giving back actually will give you a boost, too, so there is good synergy all around. Some people are lucky – with family, with friends, with natural good humor and a positive disposition. But we should all try and SHARE the wealth, be it measured in material or in spiritual term. It feels good to make the world we live in a little bit kinder and more loving. And we all have to protect ourselves, psychically, to some extent from not getting bogged down in misery.

There are plenty of miserable rich people. Glad that you are not one of them. I don’t begrudge your “luck” as I hope you wouldn’t begrudge mine. Seeing the historical socio-political backdrop to your good fortune can only bring positive insight and healthy changes to you as an individual.

As long as you don’t choose a profession that is contributing to the ills of society I have no problem with you personally having had a cush life materially, given that you are self-aware and appreciate it as anyone would and hopefully would not be greedy and would be willing to have a little less if it meant a more fair and just society. You seem like a good person, so I’m pretty sure that is the case.

How we manage resources and structure society is by no means simple. Obviously our species has intrinsic in it’s nature a tendency to allow things to go off the rails and let dominance and power overshadow our good sense. COLLECTIVELY. But this creates a creative challenge.

And the best stories have some dramatic tension….

so there’s that.

If we already lived in utopia there would be less challenge, creatively speaking.

Not that I’d mind. I’d be on the first boat there, fuck the challenge! But challenging ourselves is a very important part of being a non-stagnating person.

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