Parental $ Liability? Help please!

We sent our son to one of the large universities in Arizona in the fall of 2019 (he received a 2.0 GPA first semester, we thought it was low, but part of the learning curve of the new experience…we were sure it would improve) His high school GPA was 2.9. Spring 2020 the university GPA was 1.39. We then paid for 2 accelerated summer classes to replace 2 failed classes, which we saw little work done and he withdrew from both classes on the last day. Son is now diagnosed with ADD and has started medication. We, as parents have told him he needs to take a couple of community classes this fall to get back on track. We are not willing to pay big university costs unless we see an actual desire for college. Here’s the problem, son is refusing to drop the fall 2020 classes at the big university. He has absolutely no way of paying on his own, no job. Are we, the parents, liable for these tuition bills and fees since we paid for the first 3 terms? ugh

No, you are not liable. Contact the school billing dept and let them know, and also his adviser. Make sure he hasn’t signed up for housing and contact them separately (it will be separate from tuition billing) to make sure his room and board is cancelled if he has reserved housing. Don’t let it sit though, call ASAP. Lets assume he is living at home at the moment?
Best thing is to make sure his exit is tidy and so he can re enter at a later point (I am hoping this is your instate option and you didn’t send this kid OOS).

@Flo1213, I say no, you are not obligated to pay. If this had happened with my own child, I would either have her take a leave of absence (for medication and treatment to kick in) or have her attend community college.

Is your bank account set up for payment to the university?

Thank you for your suggestions! Yes, instate, thank God

Will double check bank account!

If you’re listed as the responsible party and he doesn’t withdraw then I think you are responsible.

Send an email to the registrar, housing office, whichever office handles the meal plan, financial aid, his advisor, and the Dean of Students to let them know your son is formally withdrawing for the year. You want it to be in writing. If you can arrange for a leave of absence, do that. The Dean of Students will be able to tell you your options, but email all of them at the same time so they get the message before the withdrawal deadline.

If it were my kid, I’d have them sit out the fall and get a job. I might let them try community college in the spring, but with that attitude I wouldn’t pay for classes anywhere this fall.

And review your bill! (in addition to Austin’s fine suggestion of what to do). You need to make sure that a $5 library fine or a $50 lost key from freshman week doesn’t end up in collections with interest and penalties because you didn’t know that those charges were on your son’s account. Ask the bursar to generate a paper bill and send you a PDF so you can see exactly what you’ve been charged for and what you’ve paid. And then save it. Don’t rely on the online billing process where mystery charges appear and disappear without leaving a paper trail.

Can a parent do that? The few colleges I have had interaction with have all insisted that such things are done by the student (I wasn’t allowed to withdraw an application after my kid had been accepted ED elsewhere, as an example, it had to come from her). Sure the parent can refuse to pay and have the same end result that the student doesn’t get registered for classes, but my understanding is that technically requests to withdraw etc have to come from the student?

Sounds like son needs to get a job! :slight_smile:

@Flo1213 - did your student accept federal loans? If so, they signed the master promissory note, as an adult. In my mind, that makes your student the responsible party. And, I feel the school can’t have it both ways, hold you liable while not allowing you to take actions on behalf of the student. Schools consider the student an adult based on the fact that they are over 18.

Your student’s credit rating is going to crater, but you should not be on the hook for the tuition.

Unless it’s different than my D’s school - just don’t pay the bill. When it’s not paid by the deadline, he will be automatically de-registered as an active student.

Tell him this is what’s going to happen. He can withdraw now or he can show up on campus unable to get a room key, with no meal plan, and not on the roster for any classes. His choice.

I wouldn’t count on this. It’s far easier to send the emails and request a withdrawal.

With an ADHD diagnosis, he should apply for a medical leave. If he does that, there will be criteria for returning. He can take community college classes to prove his ability to do the work and return if he so wishes, in a year or so.

If he drops all his classes, he will not be matriculated anyway but much better to do a formal leave. He can decide over time whether he wants to return.

If he is enrolled anywhere, he should be registering with the Office of Disabilities and then receive accommodations. He should get documentation from whoever diagnosed him. Often there are advisors and tutors for kids with ADHD who can be very helpful. If you have the money, you can hire one.

Landmark has some excellent programs that you might want to look into, that could also help in your situation.

You don’t want to continue to pay for such a bad transcript. I am glad he withdrew from those classes, even if it cost you. Preserving a good transcript is important and withdrawal is one strategy for that.

Make sure to get tuition refund insurance and check that it covers ADHD and other mental health issues.

It is a very strange situation, honestly, with him registered for classes and parents wanting him to stay home. He is in denial and probably wants to be with friends. I would be supportive, as much as possible. This is no doubt painful for him.

But he cannot continue on this path and clearly the diagnosis and meds did not help this summer.

We had a situation like this but the kid wanted to leave, despite many friends. Combination of work and one or two classes at a time at community college was then followed by a degree completion program a a university she really wanted. She is almost done a BA at age 28.

ADHD is a serious issue and meds are not a magic bullet. With grades like that, your son needs to understand there needs to be a major reset.

If communication is not working, involve a counselor. If he won’t go, then go yourself :slight_smile:

It is fine for you to communicate with the college. They may not be able to answer you. You can inform them that you will not be paying and you can also email a dean or advisor and say you want a leave for your son. Maybe they will talk to him.

Won’t they dismiss him soon anyway? Is he on probation? Sounds like he loves dorm life and wants that but is not yet ready for the work.

“Students with an outstanding balance of $500 or more of unpaid eligible charges by the designated payment deadline will be automatically enrolled in the ASU Payment Plan. Students automatically enrolled will be responsible for the ASU Payment Plan fee billed to their student account. ASU does not withdraw students from classes during the current semester for nonpayment and students must withdraw before the semester or session starts if they decide to not attend.”

Even if parents are authorized to have access to the student’s account and pay the bill, I don’t think that makes them responsible. Did they sign something saying they would pay? I know that I never did for my kids.

I think that if the student doesn’t withdraw and the bill doesn’t get paid, the student just ends up with a large debt. I expect the student will not be allowed to register for the spring or get a transcript issued for transfer until the fall is paid for.

Oh brother. OP- ignore the folks who are telling you just to ignore the bill. You may be aggravated as all get out these days with your kid- but do you really want something going to collections which will follow him around for the next decade?

Take 20 minutes to jump through the hoops to un-enroll your kid, make sure there are no outstanding charges on his account, and THEN tell him it’s his problem. Housing, food, tuition, other fees. It’s not like there are 50 different bills to deal with. It’s one bill with four lines.

Why would you saddle your kid with this if two phone calls followed up by an email can make it go away?

         And really, your kid is having a mental health crisis, get him into some therapy if he is persisting with the magical thinking, maybe a family session would really help. This is going to be hard. 

My response was in context of the post stating that only a student could withdraw, and a student that wouldn’t do so.

As most students are adults, I would think this is most universities.

Looks like that won’t work at ASU. I don’t like this policy at all.

Thank you all for your wise words. Today we sent an email to the President of the University (since we knew his staff would send it to the right person) and they let us know that our email was forwarded to the Assistant Vice President of Student Services. Waiting to hear back. Thank you again