What would you pay your kid if they went off to university?

I mentioned in a recent post that our son has left the roost (Chiayi) and gone off to university in Taipei.

To cut a long story short; It recently became apparent that he has absolutely no idea of the value of money and takes everything he gets for granted. He’s never worked, and I know for sure he has no idea how long someone in an average job here would have to work to earn enough to buy a pair of Nike Airs.

Name brand clothes, an iPhone and foreign holidays are things that he feels entitled to. I realise this my and my wife’s fault. He’s been spoiled, and this is where we’re at now. I’m taking responsibility for it and I want to try to fix it. He is a good kid, stays out of trouble and does well in his studies, so I am not trying to punish him, but I do want to teach him the value of money without leaving him high and dry.

During the summer, we told our son that once he got to Taipei, he’d have to find a part time job to cover his cost of living. We agreed to pay tuition and accommodation only. We also paid NT30K into his bank account the day he left home, so he could get himself set up. I did also make it quite clear that should he find himself in financial trouble, I will help him out as soon as he asks. He’s already ‘borrowed’ NT40K from my wife for a new computer, even though the one he had still worked fine.

He did find part time job virtually as soon as he arrived in Taipei. It’s minimum wage (NT150/hr) and works out between 8-9K per month.

My wife and I did discuss all this before we talked to our son in the summer, and at the time she reluctantly agreed that it was the right thing to do. However, now she thinks that this arrangement is unreasonable. She thinks his time in Taipei should be all expenses paid (school fees, accommodation and 8-10K/month living expenses), so that he can dedicate all of time to his studies and his social life. If we had to, we could afford this.

FWIW, back in the dark ages when I went to university in the UK, my parents paid my tuition, nothing more, and I was very grateful for it. The rest was on me. I got a part-time job and I managed just fine.

So, to the point of this post… In Taiwan, what is a normal portion of university costs for parents to cover? Am I doing it wrong by making him work part time? Happy to hear any and all opinions.


Imo, being a university student is a full time occupation for those 4 years. You counter not having work experience by working and interning during the summer. It’s nice to be able to focus on school and then social life.

But there’s also the economic reality of the situation. If it’s not possible for you and your wife, he needs to help himself. It’s just the reality of this. I had a scholarship so my parents were ok with me not working during the semester as long as I used the summer to intern and work.


A lot of the uni courses are easy going in Taiwan.
It really depends on which course he is taking. If he is doing engineering it would be difficult to balance because they have a heavy workload .
Anyway weekend job, odd evening, not a big deal to work for most. Also Taipei has tonnes of part-time jobs I imagine.


I’d pay the minimum to survive. Minimum accommodation and minimum food. He can choose to survive by the money or earn for more than that.


I think things like food and books/supplies for school are reasonable to provide. Anything else is more of a luxury and privilege.


If he’s a good kid and does study then I would pay his living expenses and not expect him to get a job during term. A summer holiday job and his job after university will teach him the value of money.

If your wife is not on board and is giving him NT40K for little reason then you’ve already lost!


I second that, but I’d add tuition and books in the package.
That way you’ll know he had enough to continue his studies while still learning the value of money.
But minimum, is really the minimum. Not fancy apartment nor expensive food.
Consider, for example, NTD300 per day for food (NTD100/meal). If he wants to have a nice dinner in the weekend, he will have to save on the breakfast.

I’d never worked like ever either at that age but I was fine with 5000 every month (though I lived at home). Honestly it’s not really a big deal.

Oh, how many times have my friends related similar stories…with 95% of them eventually giving in to the child as various new activities/opportunities (with related expenses) arise.

I suggest to keep on your current method but be wary of any new expenses which crop up. In the old days, a student would go down to a computer shop full of kids putting computers together for a cheap rate. For everything he buys avoid the branded goods. At least he can start learning that he will survive on less.

Is he going on to grad school? If yes and in Taiwan tell him most expenses are bore by him.

The lessons he learns now will serve him a lifetime. I have so many friends who are supporting their children up to age 30 and beyond. Even when they finally get a job they spend every pay cheque leaving no money in their bank account. What is the point of spending so much money for an overseas PhD when at 35 they have no money?

Sounds like your wife might not be on board with this direction. Good luck with that.

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Idk what he’s studying but some classes and majors will require a decent computer to run programs needed. Some adobe programs recommends 8GB of ram and such.

I also believe an important part of the university experience is partly social. Its hard to have a social life with no money for it. And for many kids, this is the first time they meat different types of people and more like minded people. I’m of the opinion that funding positive experiences like club and social activities is a good investment for the kid.

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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 :slight_smile: 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 :joy: 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.:wink:

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 :crazy_face:


An interesting thread. My parents had no money to give me for schooling (or anything else really) growing up. Not that we were POOR poor, but my Dad and Mom both came from working class families and fought their way up the food chain as best they could. As a result, any discretionary spending (which my parents saw schooling as, sadly) from the age of 10 years old, was borne by myself. This includes buying my first computer at 14. (which my parents did see the value of and chipped in half), and my martial arts lessons, which were paid for with part time jobs after school in middle and high school. And when University came around, it was entirely paid for by myself, mind you, a large portion through student loans. Luckily, when I got into Grad school, my grades were good enough to land some scholarships, and although money was super tight, it was livable.

I know I am from a lower/middle class Canadian (Scottish/Polish/Ukrainian) upbringing, and was raised in a very different time (70s/80s), so the expectations were different. And honestly, my boy is almost 8 years old, and we have some money now, and will definitely have more when he is ready for University.

So I find myself thinking similar thoughts to the OP, and don’t really have any ground breaking advice. I would likely give him enough money for tuition, room, food, and some basic expenses, and a bit more for year one entertainment expenses. I think going over a budget with him is a great idea, too. For year 2 and beyond, he would be expected to get a summer job for his spending money during the year. If he blows through it, tough luck for him.


Since I was working at my high school at age 14 to pay for high school tuition and university paid by myself I can be a little too biased toward working while in school. For me the work experience was probably more useful experience wise than some fun university club activities.
Just do not be like my wife’s sister and husband. Having his kids in university work part time is a major loss of face. He just cannot accept kids working while in school. Now one of his kids is overseas with annual costs of NT$2,000,000 for five years. Originally the other child was going overseas but the parents kept complaining about the costs so the kid stayed in Taiwan. I suggested part time work…no way.
As a sidenote…So his son is at a medical university in Kaoshiung but all classes are in Taiwanese. He struggled in class until he quit going and just watched English YouTube videos of his subjects. His scores improved significantly. What a waste of tuition.

I think the real conversation you need to have is with your wife.

I hope this works out.


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Enabling them too much is only going to create a problem. I like to try to play the role of plan b and a listening ear with mine. How much would i pay them for support?

Zero. That was our job from birth to adulthood, which probably shouldnt extend past 18/19.

I am shocked its like this now, even in the west. And as a company who hires people it is VERY obvious to us in the work ethic and general brain capacity between people of different ages.

I would say just pay tuition and get them to commit to paying you back (just as a lesson in responsibility not as if you are serious about collecting). Part of growing up is figuring stuff out. 18 isnt too young to figure simple addition/subtraction figures when it comes to budgeting. This should be well understood by middleschool frankly. Its ok to let our kids “suffer” and make mistakes. If we dont, very bad things tend to evolve and they wont cut it when mommy and daddy arent around. Cut the cord and help him with love, time, support and advice when he asks. Pick him up when he is really down. Otherwise let him become a man (or her a woman).

Taiwan is particularly terrible at spoiling and emotionally abusing childreneven as adults. Not teying to judge but its well known and just a fact of life that is in a way in the beginning of a kind of cultural revolution within taiwan. But i wouldnt want to play the compare to other parebts game here. We can try to go above and beyond. When we fail, adjust and evolve. Parenting.


I was surprised too.

It is impressive.


I’m one of those guys who paid for everything since I was fourteen, I did have access to part time work with a higher minimum wage though.
It’s apples and oranges comparing part time work back home vs Taiwan.

in Kaoshiung none the less.
report them to Korean Fish. its Guoyu or bust

I’ve always wondered why we say kids are adults at 18 in the US. They can drive at 16, vote and die in wars at 18, and drink when they turn 21. They look like adults but I don’t think they are until about 25. Do other countries see their youth differently? The reason I paid for most of my kids university is that I wanted them to have the 4 year uni experience that I didn’t. I married young, and did the community college and then transfer to a 4 year route. Commuting to the campus, working, raising babies occupied all my time. My grades suffered and couldn’t get involved in any extra activities. Life is short and this is a period of time that you don’t get a do over with. They definitely need limited budgets and get good grades.
Nothing wrong with working your way through and not all families can help their kids. I’m glad I could help my kids and I’m happy they’ve passed me up in terms of success. Every generation gets better.
My grandfather was a rice farmer and eventually owned a auto repair shop. He had a 6th grade education and paid for my dad’s college and my mom’s engagement ring. My Dad was the first college grad in the town and now a retired NASA scientist.