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Study: Parental support lowers college GPA

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When parents pick up greater absolute amounts and shares of college costs, it affects college GPA across the income distribution.

Parents who are footing more of the college tuition bill for their children give them a better chance of graduating. But a surprising new study finds they might not be doing their children any favors in another area—generous financial support appears to lead to lower grades.

The study, published in this month’s American Sociological Review, suggests students with some of their own “skin in the game” might work harder, and that students with parents picking up more of the tab are free to take on a more active social and extracurricular life. That might be fun and even worthwhile, but it comes at a cost to their college GPA.

“It allows for a lot of other activities in college that aren’t academic,” said author Laura Hamilton of the University of California, Merced. “Participation in the social scene is expensive—money to hang out, drink.” But “the more you have all these extras, the more you can get dragged into the party scene, and that will drag down your GPA.”

(Next page: Details about the study)

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