Should I Charge My Adult Child Rent? What About Student Loans?

posted in: Large Family | 14

Should I charge my adult child rent? What about student loans?

As the parents of 14 kids, Chuck and I have now launched 6 children out of the house and into the big, wide, world. All six have chosen their own paths and are doing well. All six have made us proud. So here I am going to do a little shameless bragging while sharing with you about our view on charging adult children rent.

Should I charge my adult child rent?

Right now my firstborn (though not oldest) son is twenty. He has graduated from university with a Bachelor’s degree in Law and Justice. And…[drum roll, please] he is employed by the Washington State Patrol! Yes, we are so, so proud of him. His official title is Communications Officer, though you and I would call him a dispatcher. He was hired by the State Patrol last month and invited to reapply as a law enforcement officer next summer when he is 21. He is well on his way to a great career and his future is bright.

Today is his first day of work.

Should I charge my adult child rent?

So how did he get here? Through a whole lot of hard work on his part.

Judah homeschooled up until 11th grade when he began attending community college. He graduated the summer he turned 18 with a high school diploma and an Associate of Arts degree. Then he attended Central Washington University for two years, earning his Bachelor’s Degree.

Judah had a handful of scholarships but had to take out student loans to pay for his education. While he applied for financial aid, he only received loans (no actual aid…it’s a long story). He was quite hesitant to take on student loans, but we encouraged him to take out the smallest amount he could while working to pay them off as soon as possible.

Should I charge my adult child rent?

Judah did exactly that. He worked at the university both years he attended. He also worked every time he was home on break (summer break, Christmas break, and spring break). Most times he even worked two jobs on his breaks. The first summer he landed a construction job as a laborer, doing maintenance in a refinery.  He worked long, hard hours. In exchange, he earned good money.

Judah graduated this summer (at age 19)  with about $14,000 in student loans. While relatively small when discussing student loans, that is an intimating number to a new graduate with no job.

Judah was prepared to pay these off as soon as humanly possible. Last summer Judah got his flagger certification. This summer he landed a job flagging for a construction company. The work was out of town so he stayed in a hotel, working ten hour nights flagging. All the while working his way through his application for the State Patrol.

A few weeks ago, Judah paid off the first THIRD of his student loans. He proudly made a $5,000 payment! The loans he has left are not collecting interest at this time and he is hoping to pay those off early in the new year.

Should I charge my adult child rent?

Should I charge my adult child rent?

Our policy has always been that everyone in our home who is able, must contribute to the family. This usually means regular chores and helping with family projects.

Judah is 20 years. He lives at home in a teeny-tiny bedroom with his 17-year-old brother. We are encouraging Judah to stay home until he pays off his student loans and buys his own car (in that order). For now, we do not charge him rent, because living at home for free is our contribution to his paying off his loans. Judah pays us for the use of one of our vehicles and has enough money in his bank account to pay for first and last month’s rent when he does move out. We have advised him to keep that money until he is ready to move. The current plan is:

  1. Finish paying off his loans.
  2. Buy a car.
  3. Move out.

At that point, Judah will be well prepared to move out and live on his own.

Should I charge my adult child rent?

Judah is making sacrifices by staying home. Sacrifices that will pay large dividends in the end. A little bit of patience now mixed with a whole lot of hard work means he should be debt free and saving money within six months.

Judah made sacrifices while attending university. He had to count every penny. He had no vehicle the two years he lived on campus. He didn’t always have money for pizza or extras. He worked every single break. But he did it and we are so proud of him!

If Judah were to stay here after he pays off his loan, we would charge him rent. At the moment he is working full-time and helps around the house when he can. We are so, so proud of him.

How do you feel about charging adult children rent?

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14 Responses

  1. Nicole S.

    He will really appreciate this hard work later (and his future wife too). My husband and I lived solely off his income when we were first married. We put my entire income towards my student loans. It took us three years instead of the planned two to pay them back in full (we had seven foster children in that time we weren’t expecting, so no regrets). In hindsight, I am so thankful we did. We’ve been married five years now and have adopted three kids, moved four times, moved out of state, bought a house, bought two vehicles, did fertility treatments, and had a baby. All which would have been more difficult with debt. I now stay home. I have other 29 year old friends who have $600 and $800 loan payments and can’t stay home with their kids or “can’t have kids because of my student loan debt.”

    • You have certainly had a crazy few years! We know he won’t regret living at home a little bit longer while he gets those paid off.

  2. I only have 3 kids.One works full time.He is 22.I do not charge him rent,the only bill I insist he helps with ,is the electric.He got himself an airconditioner for his room,so I told him now he would have to help.He does give me money, just because,sometimes.He helps around the house by doing repairs and such.
    When I was im my mid 20s,my mother put me in one of the apts. we owned and charged me to be there.A place my father had willed to me ,but left in her care.
    I do not believe in charging my kids rent to live in their own house.A house they may some day own outright.I have a problem with that.Maybe it’s because of what happened to me.I don’t know.Then again ,I don’t agree with the West tradition of putting kids out the house when they reach a certain age.I would love to have my kids ,and when they have their families, with me.Our property is large enough.It was a dream of my mother to have us kids and her living altogether,but it was not to be ,for various reasons.
    For me to put one of my kids out ,he/she would have had to have done something extreme.I know parents feel they have to send their kids off to help them to be independent etc. ,but I think kids can be independent and take care of themselves at home.

    • Our kids are welcome to live here as long as they want…but if they are adults, working full-time, and done with school, they will contribute (if not financially, then around the house). I totally understand where you are coming from and I imagine that was a painful experience 🙁 If our adult kids (of any age) needed a place to stay (job loss, injury, etc) they are of course welcome here. We are doing everything we can to make sure Judah is set up well when he does leave home.

  3. Normally I’m a lurker. We are in the same position at the moment. Our only daughter moved 800 kms away to study journalism at universty. She lives on campus and supports herself with a job. We had given her a second hand car which we pay registration, insurance and mechanical expenses because we like to know that she is safe. She pays for petrol. She will be home for summer break soon. While she is home she will have a job and hopefully an internship at the local paper. We prefer that she saves for next year at universty. Though if she wastes money while home we’ll rethink the situation.

    • This sounds like exactly what we have done. Last summer (right before his second year of university) Judah was living at home and we were not charging him anything, asking him to pay for the use of a vehicle, *or* having him work around the house. He was working full-time and saving up for his next year of schooling. We supported him fully (financially and otherwise).

  4. I think you are doing it exactly right. Paying off that loan is top priority and he’s doing just that. I did not live at home post college (not did I live near my parents) and it was hard to pay rent, buy a car, pay living expenses and pay my loan. I did it but is was SLOW going. It didn’t get paid off until I got married (husband didn’t have loans) and we decided it was best to feel the pain and pay it off.

    • We are supporting him in paying off his loans as much as we can. Right now that means living rent free, not buying his own car, and not having any bills (beyond gas, lunch and his loans). Not only is he able to pay them off quickly and not have to worry, but he is also learning about budgeting and making wise money decisions.

  5. My oldest is 22 and lives at home. He went to the local technical school for 2.5 years while working, mostly, full-time school and work. When school was finished, I started charging him rent. He also buys groceries once a month, and his phone is no longer on my plan. I feel it is helping him learn to be an adult with adult responsibilities. When I mentioned the cost of a friend’s apartment, he said “Why do you think I’m still here?” lol

    • I love your approach! This is exactly what we are trying to do…add in expenses and responsibility slowly. Judah pays to use a car (this covers insurance), pays for his own gas and we have him buying his own lunch supplies. Rent, utilities, etc are covered by us as long as he is paying off his student loans and living at home.

      • He is 20…….don’t know where the extra two years came from. lol
        D doesn’t pay to use the car, but he is in charge of all of its needs…gas, oil, tires, broken transmission……
        I also had him sign a “lease” so everything was official.

        • That’s awesome. I totally understand you getting the age mixed up. It happens 🙂

  6. […] This website has a state-by-state listing of dual enrollment options. I cannot speak highly enough of our Running Start program here in WA. Our kids have all graduated with a high school diploma and AA degree at the same time. This means Judah’s university expenses were cut in half! […]

  7. […] Judah graduated university at age 17 with a degree in Law and Justice and minor in Spanish. He landed a job with the State Patrol just weeks after his 20th […]

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