Parents rich? You may have to pitch in for college anyway

Aug. 11, 2011 at 11:11 AM ET

Just because your parents are wealthy doesn't mean they will sign for all your college bills. 

Nearly half of affluent parents did not or will not pay the full cost of their children's college education, according to Bank of America's latest Merrill Lynch Affluent Insights Survey.

The most commonly cited reason was not that they couldn't afford it but that their kids either got a grant or scholarship or were expected to. But many parents said they were making their children pay part of the cost to give them "a greater appreciation for their education" or "teach them about financial responsibility."

And 18 percent of affluent parents said they didn't or wouldn't have the money to pay the full freight. The Affluent Insights Survey reaches individuals with at least $250,000 in "investable assets," which these days might fund one student in a fancy private college, but not more than that.

Despite the stated desire to teach children financial wisdom, 82 percent said they would support their children financially during their early adult years by allowing them to move back home (with or without rent) or by subsidizing their living expenses.

The study also found that nearly half of affluent parents (48 percent) were more concerned about teaching their children financial responsibility than they were about their children finding the right spouse/partner, choosing the right career path or staying physically fit.