Just thought I’d share my experience from the kid’s point of view.
I am from Taiwan and have very unconventional Taiwanese/Hong Kong parents. I just finished my bachelor’s in Australia recently. Had some government support that more or less covered my uni fees and worked part time from second year onwards. I stayed at home, paid some boarding every month to dad and mum for maybe half of the total duration of my course. They initially paid about half of my first semester’s tuition. Books and the like didn’t cost much for my course. i.e. my parents provided me with free accommodation and food, government nearly covered tuition and I paid for everything else myself. I’m grateful for that.
(Oh I also have a dad and an older brother (IT guy) that think every living person must have a working laptop and will let me keep the one they just bought from Hong Kong last week or go shopping online for the best deal if they see I don’t have a computer to use feeling loved here)
My parents weren’t very well off and would have most likely struggled (significantly? impossibly??) to pay for university for all of their children, but I know they would have done what they did even if they had millions just lying around. And they were clear enough about it, didn’t just throw us into “harsh reality” with no preparation/expectations set up beforehand.
What people here have mentioned about extracurricular things though. I had virtually zero social life at uni, partly because of time and geographic distance/travel from home, partly because of personality, interests, etc, but also partly because of money. It wasn’t a constant worry, but pretty much the first or second thing I would always consider when making a lot of (small) decisions would be money, and I did turn down many things I would’ve enjoyed and possibly benefited from because of the cost.
I’d say whatever amount/proportion/categories you end up providing for your son, just make sure he does reach an understanding that an independent adult does not get just free spending money to enjoy however he likes for no reason. You are helping with his tuition because you see tertiary education as a worthwhile investment, not because you somehow owe it to him and would be some terrible, stingy parents if you didn’t.
Maybe you would like him to focus on his studies wholeheartedly, maybe you think it’s important that he live a comfortable life and make friends and experience general life in Taipei and not have to worry about too much at this stage. It’s 100% you and your wife’s decision (just not your son’s–he needs to be clear about this), nothing wrong as long as all of you reach a clear concensus.
One way you could do that is maybe get your son to do a monthly budget that will include every form of foreseeable spending (including tuition and entertainment and absolutely everything) and pass it to you and your wife for approval/further discussion. After that’s done, you stick to the agreed amount and refrain from giving him more money without a proper (long or short) discussion justifying an adjustment in the budget. That could be a way for him to get more of a feel around the value of money, etc. even if he doesn’t continue working.
Wow I typed so much All I want to suggest is really just this: communicate and make sure you all reach the same understanding, make your provisions and your expectations (of/on your son) match up, and don’t change them constantly or for no clear reason, and I don’t see how wrong any of it can go.
I guess my point is, how much you can provide in terms of material support will not matter so much as keeping up good communication and setting clear, consistent expectations as parents. It can be extremely confusing and frusting for the kid when they’re trying to decide between priorities and adjust to a new stage of life, if he just can’t tell exactly what you folks are expecting of him and exactly how much/what kinds of support you are/will be offering him. This happened to me one year alongside other uncertainties in life and I got depressed, suffered academically (lost my H1 average I’d kept for the last 2.5 years, failed a subject for the first time in my life, in fact two subjects) and took months to recover. Just be consistent and communicate.
Your son sounds like a very reasonable and competent kid. The fact that he promptly got a part-time job is worth congratulations. The fact that your wife grudgingly agreed then casually lent or gave him $40 grands is calling for action, I think.
p.s. Some people I know believe that family “lending” to each other never really works and too often end in hard feelings and broken relationships. Someone I knew politely refused to borrow money from his mum, who was going to lend him and his new bride the funds to buy a house, so she gifted the house to them