Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Parents' Responsibility with Regards to Higher Education in Germany

A few weeks ago, I got a kick out of reading a post from Sarah at Trying to Grok about the fact that her husband and her did not plan on paying for their future progeny’s eventual university education:

When my husband and I met with a financial advisor, he asked us how much money we wanted to set aside for our children's college funds. We slowly looked at each other, looked back at the advisor, and sheepishly asked if "nothing" was an acceptable answer. We both paid for our own college educations -- he through ROTC, I through academic scholarships -- and we expect our children to do the same. I don't plan to pay for my own child's college; there's no way I would want to pay taxes to make it free for everyone. I don't even like thinking about the tax dollars that fund the Pell grant.

Well, it’s funny that it didn’t occur to me then, but I thought I would write about it now: What would be the absolute worse case scenario for people like Sarah and her husband, who want their children to learn individual responsibility? How about this: a law which forces parents to pay for their children’s education post high-school. Yep…that exists in Germany.

Here’s a little run down of the law that I found on a online law forum:

Under German law the parents are liable for the support of the child until it becomes an adult (that is 18 years of age) or until the child finishes the first vocational or academic education, but no longer than up to the 27th birthday.

Example: Child A finishes German high school with 16 and becomes an apprentice. Finishes apprenticeship when he is 18. The parents do not have to pay after the 18th birthday, even if he does not find a job right away. The "first vocational education" was finished.

Child B finishes prep school with 19 and then goes to university to become a lawyer. She graduates only when she is 28. The parents have to pay for all costs of living including the education (as long as it is reasonable) up to the 27th birthday.

Child C also finishes prep school with 19, then does an apprenticeship as a bank manager, finishes this when she is 22. Then she wants to become a biologist and starts university. The parents only have to pay until she finished the apprenticeship, because the biology studies are not the "first" education. If she would want to make an MBA, though, they would have to pay, because that would be seen as a natural extension of the bank education.

Fascinating stuff, this socialism is, huh?

I have actually heard of a few cases where children have sued their parents, because the parents refused to pay. I also have a friend, whose parents refused to pay for his university education. So he did an apprenticeship as an accountant, which his parents supported, and he lived at home during that time. And afterwards he funded his own way through university while working part-time as an accountant.

Most often children don't resort to suing their parents, but just the fact that the law is behind them and not the parents right to relinquish financial support beyond the 18th birthday of their child, is a little whacky.


Blogger M. Simon said...

And Germany wonders why the German people are not making children like they used to.

10:34 AM  
Blogger chaoticsynapticactivity said...

I recall, quite clearly, my father asking me if I wanted to go to college. We were a middle class family in the early 70s, and my older sister's college was being paid for. I answered "yes." He said "You better go find some money." NROTC did the trick, and it was such a great deal, I gave the taxpayer an additional 16 years or time, 'coz they paid me to play with cool stuff and to go all over the world.

I think having to pay for it, whether my effort to get my own funding (and BTW, I still worked in a gas staion holidays and summers) made me a part of getting what has served me so well. I saw lots of guys at college on Daddy's money. Some did well, others abused the privilege.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

That's not socialism, not even close. If your parents are paying for something, how is that socialism?

And in America we do have laws that force parent(s) to pay for the child's education, including college and secondary. And I have heard of children suing their parent(s) to enforce that law also. It probably happens more here than in Germany.

Actually, in America the military is the most socialist program to ever exist. So those that go to college on ROTC or the GI Bill are actually using a socialist program.

Now that's some sweet communism :)

5:48 PM  
Blogger CaliValleyGirl said...

About the military being socialist: I totally agree: if you can't make choices about who your doctor is going to be, what house you are going to live in, how you are going to travel, you are never going to be able to complain about the quality of these services, and thus those things will never improve...

I wouldn't compare the ROTC or GI Bill to socialist programs, though. That is an exchange of services, with both partners making willing choices.

If the government is telling someone how to spend their money, basically spending it for them, on someone else who is "needy," that is a form of socialism. It is not a clear taxation, but similar.

That's wild that it exists in America...I didn't know that.

(I swear, I could start another blog called Rebuttels to MJ.)

7:14 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

The GI Bill and ROTC are probably a stretch for socialism. But I bet some in the military will say that what all they had to do in order to get free education wasn't worth it.

Nevertheless, the military is very totalitarian and a very good example of communism.

About the laws in America: They are mainly divorce laws in which one parent is ordered to pay for education expenses. When over half of all marriages end in divorce, I would say that law is pretty prevailant.

8:08 PM  
Blogger chaoticsynapticactivity said...

"But I bet some in the military will say that what all they had to do in order to get free education wasn't worth it."

I'm sorry, MJ, I hate to make assumptions, so before I do, may I ask just how much time you have spent in the military, or, at the least, inteviewing real people in the military?

You know, there are people not wearing a uniform who will complain about too much traffic on the way to work. Your flipant comment assumes a lot. Humans complain, but it doesn't mean we hate what we do.

On the other hand, I can point you at a post that will tell you about what some real combat vets handled the cards they were dealt in return for their educations: BT Collins on Sam Bird, then take a cruise over to Black Five and read from the seires of posts Matt has on Someone you should know" category. Take a cruise thru this post by Thunder 6. This tells just what's really being done by those who are serving the country, not trying to get money for college.

I could go on posting links here for a long time. If you think the only reason people go into the service is to get an education, you're wrong. It's a real incentive, and yes, some do, but the bulk go because they desire to "give back," and in fact, "pay it forward" for those behind them, and, some for the sheer rush of all the cool stuff you get to do. I do know some also came in, specifically to develop a particular set of skills to then go into a chosen profession on the "outside." These were some focused people who knew where they were going in life, and great people to work with.

In 1972, I actually spent time talking to the Army Recruiter. My graduation from HS was coming up in the next few months and we still had significant levels of troops on the ground in Vietnam. I would have enlisted, not even being concerned about college money, just looking forward to being paid to jump out of planes. A co-worker, an ex-sailor, advised me to go to college and get a degree, then I could be an officer. His words changed my mind.

In the later part of my career, as the results of the Reagan years took hold, I worked with some of the best and brightest young men I have ever had the pleasure to know. Many got out and then went to college, with practical life experience behind them, and better opportunities in the work force, as a result of their experiences. The amazed me many times.

No, I don't dress in a flag daily, nor any time at all, but I served my counrty, as did millions before me and today, so you could hang out and not take the time to investigate your theories, before you posted them. That, is a seemingly simple, yet powerful privilege, we all have as a result.


There's a lot more choices than you'd imagine. At a superficial level, yes, it sure seems way too structured, but you can complain about the service. I always lived off base, in a home of my choosing (and the difference coming out of my pocket), except when I went to some short term schools or assignments. I could have asked to live on base, but I never did when my family was there with me. I got to talk with the "Detailer" (read: fork tounged devil) to figure out what jobs I was assigned to. The better my performance I had in my record, the more options I had. On the flip side, as a "ship driver" there was a basic "career path" to follow. What ships and what departments, and what home ports were open to discussion, from the available open positions.

Believe me, things happen, especially in the supporting functions, if a person in the war fighter category gets put off for no good reason. Not only did I get personally involved in squaring thigs away for my crews, I know of times others did. For the most part, that was rare, but the desire to care for not only the service members, but also their families is a picture of an organization that knows how to have people show loyalty, that is earned, not forced. But, there are those who are lazy and screw up, and then a few that are criminal, just as the people who surround you daily.

mj and calivalleygirl;

With as much access as we have at our fingertips to a wealth of information, please do a little fact checking with the people who have "been there, done that" and you'll have much more cogent discussions.

1:13 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

Having a judge issue a judgment in a divorce that forces a parent to pay for their child's college is a FAR cry from laws being on the books requiring ALL parents to pay for college. Having worked in law offices in several states due to the Army moving our family around every few years, I'm not aware of any state having laws requiring parents to pay for college. I'd be interesting in knowing which state(s) have such laws. A court order is not a law...

And I respectfully disagree with Cal on the military being socialist lol. OMGosh, and here I thought I pretty much agreed with all of your views lol. Seriously though, as military families we DO have choices. If I am not pleased with having to see a military doctor (when enrolled in Tricare Prime and living within a certain radius of the installation), I can CHOOSE to dis-enroll from Tricare Prime, choose to use Tricare Standard and pick any doctor I want in the civilian world. However, due to that choice, I will no longer have free healthcare and instead will pay 20 percent of the costs out of my own pocket while Tricare Standard pays 80 percent.

During my husband's 20 years in the Army, we've chosen to live on post ONCE and that was due to it being more convenient for our family. The rest of the time, we've chosen our homes based on OUR family's wants and needs. The military may have some complexes or landlords on a blacklist that says we can't live at a certain location, but in my experience, the places banned by installations' leaderships I would not have left my dog in much less allowed my family to live there lol.

Now, we may not always get our first choice in where my husband's next duty station will be, but the Army has always (knock on wood lol) tried to work with us and get us somewhere we can tolerate. This is the real world though. The Army is my husband's job and like any job, he's going to go where they need him.

And lastly, as far as some in the military thinking the education benefits not being worth what they had to do to get it - yeah, I'm sure there are those folks out there. Being in the military is NOT easy - it's no walk in the park by any means. Those that joined thinking they were going to get something for nothing quickly found out that, once again, this is the real world and NOTHING is free. Soldiers earn every last dime of their pay and benefits - and then some. Those that thought the benefits were a great perk for doing something they wanted to do to begin with are more likely to feel fulfilled than those who felt they HAD to join in order to have a chance of receiving an education. My husband never got the GI Bill - he joined because he wanted to be a soldier first and foremost. And, after all these years, he still can't bring himself to retire and hang up the uniform for good lol. This life isn't for everyone, but it's a far cry from socialism lol and nothing even CLOSE to communism LMBO.

4:40 AM  
Blogger Chris said...


Whoever you are, I usually don't give people that make so many assumptions like you do my time. I will make an exception.

First, I didn't assume anything about military people. In fact, just yesterday I was talking to a friend who just returned from Iraq. We were talking about what he was going to do next. In Illinois, which is where I live, anyone who has served one year active duty receives free tuition to any state college. So I mentioned since his service in Iraq, he could now go to college for free and pocket his GI Bill. And his reply was, "yeah, but it wasn't worth all I had to do to get it." The man just got home from Iraq and those were his words. Take them however you want.

You probably wasted your time referring me to any articles, because I wouldn't read anything you recommend.

I never once said, or even implied, that people only join the military to pay for school.

I really don't care what you did in 1972, I wasn't even born then. And I don't care to hear any of your military stories either. I've heard enough from my dad, who was a combat veteran in Vietnam, unlike you.

You know, thirty years later I'm sure it's easy for you to say that you would have went to Vietnam if such and such had happened. Sure!

Say what you want about me, but your comments about ValleyGirl are way over board. I know she can take care of herself, I've seen her do it many times, but I will say that she is by far one of the most intelligent, well researched, well spoken and informative people I have had the pleasure of coming across- and I've never met her in person, and frankly, I disagree with her most of the time, but she sure makes more cognitive comments than the one you posted.

4:59 AM  
Blogger Chris said...


My comment about the law was said with tongue in cheek. Obviously it didn't come across that way.

We might not have laws that require a parent to pay for education, but we do have precedents, which is just as good as a law. I'm sure you know the difference between the two.

And you obviously know nothing about socialism or communism. Sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the tree's.

You really have us all going ValleyGirl :)

5:05 AM  
Blogger CaliValleyGirl said...

Man, I woke up this morning oblivious to all the hissing and clawing that was going on at my blog.

Firstly, I would like to state to Chaotic, I appreciate every comment and experience that anyone shares. I write this blog to share my experiences, it is completely subjective. Yes, I justify my opinions with facts, but still those are the facts I choose.

My experience of the military has to do with my exposure through my boyfriend, and a few other friends who have "been there and done that". And I will readily admit that my opinion is based on just about 10 people's experiences.

I try to research things as much as I can, but when it comes down to it, this is MY blog, with my opinions based on MY experiences. It's basically just MY view of things, and I don't claim that it's gospel. I think the more cogent discussions come when people like you come and give me your point of view. If I didn't want to hear other people's opinions I wouldn't have a blog, or I would at least not allow comments or emails. So basically, thank you for commenting and please continue to do so, but please don't fault me for having different experiences to base my opinions on than you.

Please, please, please still come and comment on my blog, because I love discussion.

MJ, I want to hug you, and sometimes I am like...hey, retract your claws and don't bash people like that! I mean, I understand how you feel, because sometimes when you comment, I am like, is it even f**king worth it to waste time answering this, because we are NEVER going to agree. But we basically have to, otherwise we are just as bad as everyone else who dismisses those whose opinions are different, and never tries to understand them or justify their positions in a non-condescending way, and are thus are a part of the problem and not the solution.

Anyways, thanks for the kind words...I think I am going to whip those out again and paste them in next time you challenge another one of my posts...;-)

10:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...


Sorry. I will not use your blog as a rant anymore.

I think that you and I agree more than we disagree. It's just that you are nicer about than me.

Sorry again.

5:54 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home