I (54M) have two children (23F and 21M) with my wife (52F). When the kids were young, my parents set up education funds for both of them, which was very generous of them.
My wife and I always expected our kids to attend college and then graduate school, as we have done. I have a PhD, my wife has a master’s. Because of this, we decided not to use the funds for our kids’ undergrad degrees and did not tell them about the money.
My daughter has always been more into the liberal arts, while my son is more of a STEM guy. My wife and I worried about her ability to find a job, but she insisted on studying music and film in college. She was accepted to some top schools and chose to attend a rather expensive one, but she had scholarships to cover almost all of her tuition. Everything else, plus living expenses, was her responsibility. She lived in a very small apartment shared with friends in a not-so-nice area far from campus, but she was fine and learned how to budget effectively. After graduating, she luckily found a job that doesn’t pay extremely well but she enjoys, and scrapped the idea of grad school.
My son decided to do engineering, and he also expressed that he had no interest in grad school. My wife and I were disappointed, but accepted it since at this point he is already all set up with a very good job when he completes school. Since he did not receive as many scholarships as his sister, we decided to use his education fund to cover his tuition and living expenses. He was able to get a large and nice apartment of his own close to the school, which is important since his classes are so demanding and he needs a comfortable space to work.
My daughter was confused and asked how he could afford this, and he told her about the education fund. She called us and asked why she didn’t have one, and we told her she did, we just didn’t use it because we hoped she would attend grad school. She seemed hurt by this and asked if there was any way she could have the money now. We explained that there would be a fee to simply withdraw the money for non-education uses, and if we chose to do that it would belong to her grandparents so they could put it towards their own use. She’s been quiet and short when answering our texts, and hasn’t answered our calls at all since then. I know that it seems unfair to her, but it’s not really her money in the first place and she’s no longer in college. Plus, her brother only received it for educational purposes and it wouldn’t be right for her to just have it to spend now. Am I An AH ?
UPDATE: I understand the consensus is that my wife and I are the AH. I texted my daughter to ask if she wanted us to withdraw the money for her/what she wanted to do. This was her response: “I don’t care. Maybe they can transfer it to [other grandkid who is 5] if the fee is seriously too much. Idk about grad school I haven’t thought about it much recently. If I do apply it wouldn’t be for another couple years and I hadn’t been counting on having any financial help in the first place so it really doesn’t even matter. Thanks for asking tho.”
UPDATE 2: My wife and I are discussing our daughter’s response and our next actions to resolve this situation. For context, my wife has always had a strained relationship with my daughter and did not approve of many of her life choices. She believes we should take our daughter’s words at face value and assume she no longer wants the money. From some of the responses here, I fear that my daughter’s response was out of resentment and I suggested taking out as much money as her brother was given so at least they received the same amount. She could use it responsibly towards rent, groceries, transportation, etc. or in some other way to further her career, so it would still be for “educational” purposes in a sense. My wife is standing firm in her opinion, and we will continue talking it through tomorrow.
Many have asked about where my parents stand on this. At this point, they are not mentally aware enough to really participate in the discussion. They did know about our grad school stipulation and thought it was fine. They also knew that we took out some money for our son once we were certain he was not pursuing an advanced degree, and were fine with that as well. They said it was our decision as parents what to do with our daughter’s fund, and they would support whatever we decided for her. It wouldn’t be useful to ask them what to do with it now, but I have always said that whatever is unused will go back to their care. I have tried to call my daughter with no luck, which is why I sent the text. Despite what many have said here, I hope this does not end our relationship.