Study: Parent aid lowers college grades

When parents pay their children’s college costs, students earn lower grades but are more likely to graduate, concludes a new study by Laura T. Hamilton, a sociology professor at University of California at Merced.

As parental aid increased, students’ GPAs decreased. “Students with parental support are best described as staying out of serious academic trouble, but dialing down their academic efforts,” Hamilton wrote.

Today’s college students spend an average of 28 hours a week on classes and studying — and 41 hours a week on social and recreational events, another study found.

According to Hamilton’s study, students with no parental aid in their first year of college had a 56.4 percent chance of graduating in five years, compared with 65.2 percent for students who received $12,000 in aid from their parents.

Grants and scholarships, work-study, student employment and veteran’s benefits do not have negative effects on student GPA, said Hamilton. Students may feel they’ve earned the money and take their responsibilities more seriously.

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  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Two possibilities. A reluctant kid, not sure of his abilities, goes to college because only or primarily because his parents pay for it.
    Those who pay for their own do not include the above cohort.
    When setting up a trust years ago, the trust officer wanted to know how he should support college. In their experience, complete support from the trust fund was associated with poor results. “They don’t take it seriously.” So, two dollars support for every one dollar earned? Three to one? Something else?
    This phenomenon is not a new discovery.

  2. It probably depends somewhat by exactly what the parents mean by ‘support’, too. I had some scholarship money (which required good grades to keep), and my parents paid the rest. I earned my spending money in the summers. I knew that I had a sibling who would start college the year that I graduated. I knew that my parents could pay for my 4 years, but probably not both of us at once..and I needed full funding for grad school. Although my parents were paying, I had plenty of incentive to get good grades, I had a goal to work towards, and I had a time limit.