Should parents pay for son's master's?

Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

bio | email

DEAR AMY: My 22-year-old son just graduated from an out-of-state university, which we paid for. Now that he's back home, he tells us he will "need" to pursue a master's degree because he would like to be a clinical psychologist. He has a part-time job and also is paying rent/bills. He wants us to pay for his additional schooling. He does not want to be in debt and he believes we have some extra money to help out. What do you suggest?Mommy Big BucksDEAR MOMMY: Your son sounds impressively self-directed (working, paying rent and expenses). He is correct that in order to pursue the goal of being a clinical psychologist he will require more schooling.

The next step for him will be the burden of successfully negotiating with you about what you will (or won't) pay for. This is great practice for a future psychologist. He is solely responsible for fulfilling his own goals.

He should research and pursue financial aid through grants, scholarships or fellowships. If he still needs a financial bridge to fully fund his education, you might be willing to formally loan him this money (at low or no interest), to be repaid once he secures a professional job in his field.

If you can't do this -- or simply don't want to -- he will have to decide whether he is willing to take on personal debt or pursue his higher degree in stages, as he can afford it.

DEAR AMY: I got so mad when I read the letter from "Reluctant Wig Wearer," whose therapist criticized her for wearing a "mask for society" by choosing to wear a wig. What the heck? I think this woman should keep the wig but lose the therapist.Enthusiastic Wig Wearer

DEAR ENTHUSIASTIC: I know so many women (and one teenager) who wear wigs because of the effects of chemotherapy. I cannot imagine anyone second-guessing or criticizing this choice.