Should Parents Foot The Bill Based on GPA?

Smiling teen boy and girl each holding up a graded paper and smiling.

Should Parents Foot The Bill Based on GPA?

Published February 18, 2024

Smiling teen boy and girl each holding up a graded paper and smiling.

Should decent grades be a requirement for you to help your child pay for college? We asked parents in our Paying for College 101 Facebook Group if they require their students to disclose their grades as a condition to paying for tuition and/or room and board, and hundreds of them shared their thoughts.

“College is an investment,” says April N. “If I enter into an investment, I expect regular status updates. I’m not saying I’ll bail out at the first sign of trouble, but only a fool would continue to throw good money after bad if there was no hope for a return on investment.”

Investment is a key word here — lots of parents consider college to be a major investment, and rightfully so. Sasha K, for example, says she wants to know that her investment is solid every step of the way, and at times that may mean keeping tabs on her college student’s grades. “I have watched too many parents pay for their kid’s college only for them to not graduate on time and in some cases years later because they didn’t take it seriously,” she says.

Some College Students Have a Hard Time Adjusting, Which Can Impact Their GPA

Marni A. says she believes college is a time of transition, one that some kids navigate fine, while others need more support. She isn’t against requiring to see grades when parents are footing the bill to make sure they stay on track. “That should be the reason to check and even to guide a child to possibly take a break and stop school until the situation can be addressed,” she says. “I’m just 100 percent against threatening to stop payment if a kid doesn’t perform as highly as the parent believes they should.”

She suggests periodic check-ins to make sure everyone is on the same page. “What worked for us was a weekly check-in freshman year, a monthly check-in sophomore year, and mid-term and final grades junior year,” she says.

The Last Thing Any Parent Wants Is To Be Blindsided About Bad Grades

Sabrina M., a mom with four kids in college, requires her children to disclose anything that may impact the family financially. “When one of my kids was in college with an academic merit scholarship that he was forever in danger of losing, there was never a question of whether we would be blindsided by the potential loss of a full tuition scholarship,” she says.

Nike A. says if a child is not readily sharing their grades with you, the parent may need to ‘require’ it — not so they can withhold paying for their education but rather so they can support their child and protect their investment. “Setting the expectation of seeing grades and providing positive reinforcement can work together and should not be viewed as mutually exclusive,” says Nike A. “It’s not unusual for young adults to bury their heads in the sand hoping that a bad situation goes away. Part of good parenting is instilling accountability while letting them know you will always be there to listen, love, and support them no matter what. Accountability sometimes requires ‘requiring’.”

Make Sure You And Your College Student Are On The Same Page

Nikki L. doesn’t ask to see grades, but she made it abundantly clear to her college student that if she doesn’t perform well, she will have to withdraw from school and come home. 

“It looks different for each of my kids,” she says. “My last kid in college goes out of state, plays a sport with a substantial scholarship, and has a smaller academic scholarship that requires she maintains a 3.25. She knows if she doesn’t do well, we can’t afford to let her stay. Do I ask her for grades? No. Does she share them on her own? Yes. Knowing that if she doesn’t do well she has to go to school in-state or find a cheaper school is motivation enough.”

Tiffany M. leaves it up to the college to keep tabs on her college student. “They know their responsibilities, and the school holds them accountable just like a boss,” she says. “Where do you draw the line? If they get a C are you no longer going to pay? They have enough to deal with.”

Some parents seem to think that having expectations regarding a student’s grades is synonymous with punishment for their grades, but Tiffany M. disagrees. “I’m confused as to why people seem to equate those two things. A requirement for transparency should be encouraged for all investments involving family or outsiders.”

How much transparency about grades will you require from your college student? Join this and other conversations with parents just like you on our Paying for College 101 Facebook Group.


Use R2C Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.  

Other Articles You Might Like:

Tips to Help Save Merit Scholarships in Jeopardy

FERPA: Are Students Required to Share Their College Records with Parents?

FERPA Waiver and Other Legal Documents College Students Shouldn’t Leave Home Without




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