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According to a recent Harris survey, 26% of parents have taken on additional debt in order to help their children. Approximately 10% have put off retirement and another 10% have put off moving due to the costs of supporting an adult child.

It’s not such a shock when you consider that the average student loan debt load has doubled in the past 20 years from $12,000 to $24,000. That debt has been harder for recent college grads to pay off with the ailing economy and a ruthless job market, but the tide is turning now, and it may be time to give your kid a firm nudge.

Any other tips for parents in this situation?

First, I’d try to spare people the situation in the first place, and to that end, I encourage parents of college-aged kids to watch their child’s borrowing. Student loans for living expenses are all-too available, and an 18-year-old with an infinite expense account is dangerous. Try to keep the borrowing confined to direct school costs—tuition, fees and books. When Ramen, bean bag chairs mini-fridges end up on the tab, it can get unmanageable pretty quick.

My parting advice is when you bite the bullet and decide it’s time to take your kid off the family payroll, just to be as empathetic and emotionally supportive as you can be. Tell your children how capable you know they are of taking responsibility for themselves financially, and remind them that you will always be there to serve as a sounding board and provide advice, counsel and emotional support.

Cutting Off the Kids  was originally published on

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