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Dear Dave,

Our son is about to graduate from law school. He took out a loan to cover the cost, but we’ve always been debt-free and have been paying on it to help him out while he finishes his studies. The balance on the loan right now is around $30,000. He has a job waiting for him after he graduates, so we’re thinking about telling him it will be his responsibility to finish paying off the loan at that point. Is that wrong?

Pat

Dear Pat,

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a young law school graduate earning a living and paying off his own debt. I hope he appreciates how generous you both have been, but you shouldn’t feel as if you’re obligated to continue making these payments after he finishes school and begins working.

Now, if you decide to pay it off for him as a gift for successfully completing law school — and you’re in a financial position to do so without hurting yourselves or your future — that’s fine, too. It would be another incredibly generous act. And in my mind, generosity of that magnitude should be met with gratitude and appreciation of equal measure.

If you choose this route, let him know how and why you were able to give him this gift. Don’t hold it over his head or beat him up with it, but stress the importance of being wise with money, saving and investing, and staying out of debt in the future. Let him know if he’ll follow your example, he might be able to do the same kind of thing for his kids someday. That would be a wonderful thing to see, wouldn’t it?

—Dave