Rich Kids, Big Payoffs, Life Lessons

There’s no way I could ignore this news item on son of Sean (Diddy) Combs, who was reportedly awarded a full ride to UCLA, to the tune of $54,000/year.

Justin Combs earned his merit scholarship, just like any other kid. Shouldn’t we reward those who work hard for what their brains and / or sweat have accomplished?

But does it make sense for the son of a man who’s reportedly worth half a billion dollars to be given 54k/year, when limited funds are available, and that money could go to a student who might otherwise be unable to attend?

Then again, merit scholarships are a matter of merit, right? Aren’t they designed to be need blind?

So if we believe that kids who work hard should reap the rewards, should Justin Combs say thank you but… I will decline the money? Or should he take what he’s earned, regardless of his family’s financial status?

How to Afford College Tuition?

This subject? It hits close to home. I have two sons in college, both on merit scholarships. They also carry loans, and one has worked two part-time jobs along with a full academic load. Even with all that, there are thousands of dollars that are left uncovered. I’ve kicked in as well, and relative to my income, frankly, it’s been a significant contribution.

As a long-time single parent, like many, I’ve been subject to the whims of an incomprehensible family court system, a disproportionate financial burden when it comes to the cost of raising children, worsened by a bumpy economy. Whatever once would have gone to college has long since been used just to get by.

I’m hardly alone in this situation. There are millions of us, aren’t there? Single parents or otherwise?

Our bottom line?

The college countdown was painful enough; the wait to hear about aid packages – for me – even more so. Without the scholarships my sons receive (for which I’m endlessly grateful), they wouldn’t be attending the fine universities they’re both enjoying. And may I add – they’re busting their young butts, in order to maintain the grades required to keep their necessary academic standing.

Rich Kids, Donor Dollars

As a society, we have good reason to be concerned about the lessons we’re teaching our children.

We give too much, we say yes too easily; divorce complicates things immeasurably.

So should we not reward a rich kid for the very sort of rigor and responsibility we’d like to encourage in our sons and daughters? Still, if there is no need for a monetary award, should a wealthy family accept it? What lesson does that teach – relative to others who are less fortunate?

I can’t help but think back to the many weeks not long ago when I was immersed in data gathering and documenting for the purpose of completing FAFSA and CSS. These are essential financial reporting tools for those of us who apply for college aid. The amount of detail included can be considerable, and the time (and cost) required, likewise.

But I have no problem with this. If anything, I am reassured that serious people are taking their responsibilities seriously, and the awards of grants and loans are appropriately scrutinized.

As for scholarships awarded from limited pools to which alums (among others) donate?

As an alum of two prestigious institutions myself, I am incensed to think that my hard-earned dollars would ever be given to someone who could so clearly afford to pay.

College and Life Lessons

Perhaps there is already a mechanism in place for this sort of situation. Perhaps it’s simply a matter of saying “thanks, but no thanks,” accepting the distinction and declining the funds. Perhaps a polite “decline” is already in process.

And I find myself wondering about my own donated dollars.

I’d be interested to hear from those who work at universities, and also, other parents.

  • If Justin Combs accepts these funds, what lessons should our kids take from it? And what about us?
  • What would your perspective be if you were the parent of a UCLA student who was accepted, but couldn’t afford to attend?
  • How would you feel if you were an alum, and thought your $50 or for that matter, $500 each year were going to a very rich kid?

I welcome your thoughts.



© D. A. Wolf