College is an expensive investment in the United States. Student borrowers owe an average of $37,338 in federal loans—half of them are still in debt 20 years later.
Give Up His College Fund For His Brother?
So, when a teenager was asked to give up their college fund, they had good reason to hesitate: should they keep the money or spend it on their little brother’s urgent medical treatment?
The Couple Were Divorced in Years
When they were seven years old, the teenager’s parents divorced over the dad’s affair with another woman. Soon after the separation, the mom and child relocated to an apartment, while the dad moved his heavily pregnant mistress into their former family home.
The couple still lives there with the teenager’s twin half-brothers.
The Mother Flourished in Her Career
“My mom was devastated, but she quickly picked herself up for us,” recalled the teenager in their social media post.
In the years since the divorce, the mom returned to school, climbed up the professional ladder, and earned enough money to provide as a single parent.
She Contributed Money to The College Fund
“My mom adjusted better to going from a double income household to a single income and was able to contribute a substantial amount of money to my college fund.”
The Dad Had a Big Family to Support
On the other hand, the teenager’s dad has struggled financially in the aftermath of the breakup.
Since his second wife is a stay-at-home mom who homeschools the boys, the dad works two jobs to provide for the family of four (and, occasionally, his eldest child) on a single income.
As a result, he has barely added to the teenager’s college fund.
Struggling to Pay Medical Bills
Tragedy struck when the teenager’s ten-year-old brother was diagnosed with an end-stage kidney disease that requires dialysis as treatment. In the U.S., dialysis treatments can cost between $3,000 to $14,000 dollars per month, depending on whether the patient pays through public or private health insurance.
Since the dad is now overburdened with medical debt, the teenager writes that their mom has “agreed he no longer needed to pay child support.”
They Had Few Options
Unfortunately, the treatments are not working, and short of a transplant, there are precious few alternatives.
According to the teenager’s post, their brother’s doctors have now recommended a different treatment, which “is not covered by insurance and costs a lot.”
They Were Desperate and Struggling Financially
Since the boy’s parents are already riddled with debt, taking out a loan is not an option.
Desperate for money, the teenager’s dad and his wife “sat me down when I was over and asked if I would be willing to let them borrow my college fund to pay off my brother’s treatment.” The teenager revealed, “They offered to pay the money back, but I knew they wouldn’t be able to.”
The Teenager is Really Worried About Their Future
In their post, the teenager explained that they are about to finish high school and they believe they have a “good shot” at getting into some of their top-choice schools.
If they were to be admitted to any of them without a scholarship, it would be impossible to pay for tuition without incurring student debt. “My future would be at risk, and I know my dad wouldn’t help if I needed it,” they shared.
It’s Not Technically Theirs Yet
Moreover, the money is not technically in the teenager’s possession. The mom administers the college fund: “I can’t just give it away, and I know she would refuse to give them the money.”
What Should They Do?
Due to this moral dilemma, the teenager is now internally conflicted. “My dad and his wife are furious at both my mom and me and are trying to guilt me into it,” they concluded. “I do feel terrible for my little brother.”
Social Media Supported The Teen
Fellow Redditors rushed to reassure the teenager that they were not in the wrong. “The money isn’t yours, firstly. It was allocated by your mother for a specific thing,” read the top-voted comment. “… It was grossly inappropriate for your father to ask for money from you, who I presume is a minor.”
“Not just inappropriate,” added a student borrower. “The father is literally saying he’s OK with [his child] going into debt so that he doesn’t have to. This would saddle a teenager with a mountain of debt at the start of their life.”
“Imagine being so entitled that you think it’s right for your ex-wife to pay for the kids you had with your mistress,” scoffed an unsympathetic commenter.
It May Have Lead to Some Unexpected Ramifications
Multiple users pointed out the future ramifications of emptying the account and then applying for federal student loans. Taking out the savings would cost “extra fees and taxes besides, as well as [the] loss of other possible financial aid opportunities,” if FAFSA considered the college fund when calculating any potential need-based loans.
They Made a Decision
In an update, the teenager revealed that they had come to an agreement with their mother on how to proceed. After explaining the situation over a cup of coffee, the mom offered her child two options: to keep the fund intact or to give back the dad’s portion of contributions.
Since the teenager decided to return the dad’s investment, the pair later went to the bank to withdraw the money. Not only did the mother extract the amount from the fund, but she also matched it with a donation from her personal savings.
Dad Was Not Happy With The Outcome
Together, they returned to the dad’s house: “I waited in the car while she gave dad the money, and he was upset because the money wasn’t enough. Mom told him that is all he’s going to get from her and threatened to take him to court if he and his wife keep harassing me.”
Although not exactly a happy ending, the teenager retained most of their college fund and decided to go “low contact” with their dad. “Thank you, everyone, for the genuine support and advice,” they wrapped up their bittersweet update.
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This article Pressured To Use His College Fund For His Brother’s Treatment was syndicated and produced by TPR Teaching. Reddit source.
I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.
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