Grandparents are everywhere! According to U.S. Census information, more than one in every four adults in the United States is a grandparent. Most of those grandparents are Baby Boomers in the 45 to 64 year age range. That means that most college students in the United States are likely to have at least one grandparent in their life. The trends indicate that this number will continue to grow over at least the next decade and that American grandparents will be playing a central role in the lives of their grandchildren and their adult children.
The MetLife Report on American Grandparents is based on a nationwide survey of adults aged 45 or more who have grandchildren under the age of 25. This survey highlights some information about today’s grandparents and at least some of the connections that they have with their college aged grandchildren.
- 63% of those surveyed said that they are giving some type of financial assistance or monetary gifts to their grandchildren.
- 70% are giving less than $5000 and the median amount is $3000.
- 26% of those surveyed are contributing to their grandchild’s education
- 68% of those surveyed said they are not giving any financial advice or guidance to their grandchildren.
- Of those grandparents helping with educational costs, 46% said they are contributing to an educational fund and 24% are helping fund a college education (others may be helping with preschool, elementary or high school costs).
- Those grandparents most likely to financially help their grandchildren are women, those with more education and those with higher incomes.
These statistics give one important snapshot of a relationship between college students and their grandparents. It is clearly an important piece. When the connection between college students and grandparents is discussed, the topic is overwhelmingly around the ways in which grandparents can best financially help their college student – how much to contribute, when to contribute, how to contribute.
We know that this financial connection is important. However, it is important that college students, their parents, and their grandparents remember that there are many important ways, beyond the financial aspects, that grandparents and students can, and should, be connected. Grandparents want to help their grandchildren, and passing on their knowledge and wisdom is an important way to help.
Because most grandparents are not responsible for the day to day support of their grandchildren, not so caught up in daily details, they may be more easily able to recognize the adult that their grandchild is attempting to become. They can maintain open lines of communication and provide an important support system and sounding board for their grandchild.
We’ve written an earlier post about specific ways that grandparents can be involved in the lives of their college-student grandchildren. Please read our suggestions and consider how you can help your college student’s grandparents to be involved, and how you, as a college parent, can encourage your student to reach out to grandparents.
The wider your student’s safety net and support system extends, the better your student’s chances of success.