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Parents Know Best

Two Ogden Honors parents share how they motivate their children to excel

Brady and Patricia Como know a thing or two about sending kids off to college. Their son Ben will be graduating in December and their daughter, Katie, is a current Ogden Honors student. Like most parents, they experienced some anxiety as they prepared to send their oldest off to college.

“Our son had older friends and many of those boys, who were very good students in high school, would go off to college and bomb out their freshman year,” Patricia said. “And then their parents would struggle with what to do with these boys that weren’t doing even half of what they were capable of.”

By the time Ben entered his senior year of high school, the Comos decided they were going to find a way to help him avoid a similar fate. They came up with an incentive plan that would “give him an extra boost” to perform well academically, as well as teach him to be a financially responsible adult.

“The idea was to give him money for the entire school year and let him manage it. He pays all of his bills, food, housing, and at the end of the semester, depending on how he does academically and how many hours he’s taken, he’s reimbursed on a sliding scale.

The Comos credit the plan for Ben’s success his freshman year of college and decided that they should put the same plan in place for Katie. “She needed little incentive to do well,” Patricia said, “however, I believe this plan helped keep her in Louisiana and at LSU.”

The Comos opened a separate checking account for Katie and deposited one-year’s worth of estimated expenses. Katie pays all education-related expenses from this account. At the end of the semester, they reimburse the expenses based on a sliding scale of how many hours she completed and her GPA for that semester.

For example, if Katie takes 18 hours and has a semester GPA of 3.5 or above, she is reimbursed by 120 percent. If she takes 14-16 hours a semester and maintains an acceptable GPA, she is reimbursed for 100 percent of her expenses. Though they’ve never had to worry, if Katie drops her full-time status or has an extremely low GPA, they won’t reimburse her at all. Her parents have pledged to provide support for up to five years, as long as she remains a full-time student. Tuition, fees, books, and supplies are reimbursed at actual cost, while housing is reimbursed at the going Laville Honors House rate. If there are inadequate funds in the account to pay tuition and other fees, it’s up to Katie to figure out how to pay them.

That hasn’t been a problem for the Ogden Honors student. With the promise that the account will be transferred to her when she graduates, she’s got some extra motivation to excel academically.

Turning over such a large amount of cash to your child can be daunting and “takes a lot of trust,” Patricia said. She recommends that parents think the plan through thoroughly before making a firm commitment to their child.

While a plan of this scale may not be for every parent, Patricia said, “it can be modified in so many ways to suit a parent’s ability and willingness to fund their child’s education.” 

“Determine the maximum you are willing and able to pay and set that as the maximum reimbursement, then scale the plan to that level of funding,” she said. “We didn’t expect our son to be in the bonus category every semester, but that is what happened. It’s difficult to look at the cash in the account and not try to cut some things out after the plan is in place. Do the cutting on the front end and then be willing to honor your commitment to your child.”

When they came up with the plan, the Comos were hoping to avoid a situation where, “five years down the road our son has no real college credit and is still living on our checkbook,” Patricia said. It’s exceeded expectations. In fact, with both kids exceling, they’ve changed the name.

“We now call it the bonus plan because they have both ended up with bonuses at the end of each semester.”

Interested in hearing more great ideas from other Ogden Honors parents? Join Brady and Patricia Como and become a part of Les Amis des Etudiants. Les Amis is a parent community dedicated to supporting programs and activities for Ogden Honors College students, connecting with other parents and supporters, and staying informed.