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Money From Parents Helps with College Graduation, But Not Grades

While parents want to help out with college expenses, students don't always do their best when mom and dad are picking up the tuition tab.

A new study finds that students' grade point average decreased with increased financial support from their parents. While they avoided academic failure, those with more money from their parents tended not to put in as much same academic effort as those with less money.

However, students who had financial aid from their parents were more likely to complete a degree, according to research by Laura Hamilton, a sociology professor at the University of California at Merced, in a paper to appear in the February issue of the American Sociological Review.

Students without money from their parents in their freshman year had a 56.4 percent chance of graduation, compared with 65.2 percent of first-year students who had at least $12,000 in financial support from their families.

Interestingly, other student support, such as federal financial aid, work-study, and grants, did not negatively affect students' GPAs, Hamilton's study found.

Hamilton's advice to parents is not to cut off support, since their financial help is a big factor in completion. But it is appropriate to set expectation for student performance and tie the continuation of aid to a minimum GPA.

Another idea would be to have children foot part of the bill to increase the investment they feel in their education.

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