Should Parents Fund Their College Student's Vacations?

three college students on spring break playing on a beach at sunset

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Spring Break: A Rite of Passage Or Waste of Money?

Spring break trips have been part of the college experience for a long time. College students have flocked to beach cities Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach, Puerto Vallarta for sun, sand, romance and a margarita or two. Spring break brings out the best, and sometimes, the worst in young adults and college students. Others like to go on snowy ski vacations over winter break, snowboarding and sipping hot cocoa (and other less innocent beverages).

For many college kids, the only way they can afford plane tickets, hotel rooms and other expenses for winter break or spring break excursions is to ask mom and dad to help pay their way. Some parents are fine with this, budgeting the expense into the overall cost of their children's college educations, while others draw the line at funding a beer-soaked week of partying. Should parents pay for spring break or other vacations for their college students?

College Students Borrowing Money for Spring Break

Studies by LendEDU over the past few years have found that college students are tapping into student loan funds, as well as using credit cards, to pay for spring break vacations. Caught up in the excitement of getting out of town with friends, they will dismiss concerns about paying for necessities for a week away. If parents are in a position to offer to either lend money or pay for winter or spring break trips, it is probably a better option than students running up debt or using tuition and book money to lie on a beach somewhere.

With the average college student graduating with $28,000 in student loans and other loans, minimizing debt is a good idea.

Parents Can Veto Vacation Spots

One very good reason for parents to help their college kids and young adults pay for their vacations is to have a say in the location, transportation and other factors of the trip. If you prefer that your college student spend spring break stateside instead of going out of the country to places like Mexico, the Caribbean or other locales, offering to foot the bill is a great way to exert your influence over the decision of where to go. 

Other concerns parents may have include:

  • Hotel security
  • Travel companions
  • Enough money for emergencies
  • Health issues (avoiding Montezuma's revenge)
  • Local crime 

If it's within their budget, it could be worth the peace of mind for parents to help pay for spring break and winter break trips to destinations they know will be safer and more secure for their college kids.

Parents Words Will Have Impact

Even for underage students, alcohol is not difficult to come by in student-overrun vacation destinations, where parties are in hotel rooms and on beaches. In Daytona Beach during the spring of 2015, there were 20,000 fake ids confiscated and 2,000 arrests made of those ages 15-21, according to the Courier-Journal newspaper in Louisville. Getting arrested is no small thing, especially if it happens far from home; parents can incur thousands of dollars in expenses, from attorneys to travel costs. 

Paying your young adult's way for spring break gives you room to express your opinions, state your guidelines and issue stern warnings to your almost-grown college student. By laying out your money for their enjoyment, you reserve the right to make it crystal clear what you will or won't do if your child gets into trouble - serious or otherwise. Despite their possible loud protestations, your kids will listen to you and heed your advice - at least, they should. You'll feel better knowing you've been able to speak your mind because you have invested in this adventure. 

Make It A Family Trip

If the idea of sending your college kid off to distant locations with a bunch of people you don't know is simply not ok with you, why not suggest a family trip instead? Let your young adult invite a friend or two along, and head off for a relaxing, far less-worrisome week where you can rest assured that, no matter what happens, you'll be nearby if anything goes wrong.​