One of my co-workers firmly believes that it is his job as a parent to do whatever he can to give his son a good head start on life. To achieve this he has paid his son's college tuition, paid his rent when he moved out to be closer to campus, bought him furniture and a car. He made sure that he had health insurance and paid his car insurance. He achieved all of this despite both he and his wife were laid off from their jobs. He did whatever he had to do, including not rolling over his 401(k), so that he could pay all the bills. Even now, almost two years after his son has graduated and has a full time job, he continues to pay his car insurance.
On a recent visit home this man's son said, "Gee Dad, why don’t you buy yourself some new furniture yours is really looking shabby and by the way next week I'm going on vacation to Florida with my girlfriend.”
I firmly believe that you should not jeopardize your own retirement and financial future to subsidize your children’s college education. There are many resources available to assist your children with their college expenses, but relatively few to assist you with expenses if you run short each month after retirement. How will these same children respond when they hear their elderly parents are experiencing financial difficulties? I imagine they will say, “Gee Mom and Dad you should have saved more.”