Paying For College Through Bribery?

It’s late May – are you starting to think about the bribes you’ll be paying out this spring?BribeKids

The end of the school year is rapidly approaching.  Your kids are probably busy with end-of-year projects, and studying for finals.  There’s probably some whining, and a few late nights.  You might find yourself reminding your kids of the importance of sticking with it – focusing, working hard, finishing strong… you know the drill.

What if you took a different tack to this problem?  Should you pay kids to receive good grades?

If you are of the mindset that kids only job in life should be to work hard in school, that they don’t need to have a job or do chores until they are out on their own, then it probably does make perfect sense to pay kids to get good grades.  Where else would they get money to spend?

If, however, you are a parent who believes that kids can work hard in school while simultaneously chipping in around the house and doing the work expected to make the household run smoothly, then it probably doesn’t make sense.  After all, these kids are likely already receiving an allowance of some type for being productive family members.

This is an issue that requires a little thought.

What is a great GPA worth?

Let’s assume that we’ve got kids who gets good grades (GPA starting with a “3”) and they’re seriously thinking about going to college. If that’s the case, it is very likely that their grades will translate into money for scholarships and financial aid.  For most families that means that the ones getting the benefit from good grades are the parents, the ones footing the college bill. So how do you motivate kids to get good grades now, when they really don’t see how it will benefit them?

Sit down with your kids when they start high school.  Let them know that you really want them to be able to attend the college of their choice, but you won’t have the $40,000, $60,000 or more to pay for their college. However, you have a solution. They can pay for a big part of their college through earning good grades in high school, and get a bonus along the way. Here’s how it could work:

  • Set a GPA target – say 3.7
  • Each grading period they earn 3.7 or better, you’ll pay out a bonus, in two parts:
  • The larger part, say $500 will go into a college fund
  • A smaller cash bonus, say $100, will be paid directly to the kid, to pad their current budget

Adjust the amounts and the GPA threshold to fit your kids and your family budget.   You could also have a “double bonus” – for a perfect 4.0 semester, award double the amount to the college fund and in cash payment.

There are three HUGE benefits from a system like this:

  • It gets kids serious about getting good grades (and maybe obsessed with getting perfect grades)
  • It gets you, the parent, disciplined about putting cash into a college fund on a regular basis
  • In the end, it doesn’t cost you much more than simply putting money into a college fund.  The only “extra” expense are the cash bonuses, which should amount to $200-$500 per year.  In fact, if it gets your student to earn excellent grades, the scholarships they earn may actually result in this plan costing you LESS in the long run!

Kids are notoriously bad at long-range planning.  Focusing on getting good grades in ninth grade in order to earn college scholarships in four years is hard discipline for most kids.  However, most kids do well with immediate incentives.  The trick is to structure these bribes so they make sense for both the parent and the child, and result in the best possible end result.

If you are bribing your kids, either to earn good grades, or to succeed at something else, I’d love to hear about it!

Leave your stories of bribery in the comments below!

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