How much would a parent give a child to help with debt?

WASHINGTON — Good news for kids in debt: the average parent would hand over $5,700 to help his child, without expecting to be paid back, according to a new report.

The amount bounces up to nearly $8,000 if the parents will be reimbursed.

And 90 percent of parents said they would give their kids something in the range of $1,001 to $5,000 regardless of whether they were to get paid back.

Parents surveyed were particular about what types of debt they’d help out with, however, with 57 percent saying they’d never assist in dealing with gambling debt and only 5 percent having no objection.


Type of Debt Would Never Help Pay No Objection to Helping
Gambling 57% 5%
Credit Card 16% 13%
Auto Loan 8% 31%
Student Loan 6% 52%
Mortgage/Rent 4% 45%
Utilities 4% 47%
Medical 2% 68%


Household income doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to parents’ willingness to help pay their children’s debt.

Those with an annual income less than $30,000 are just as likely to assist their kids as those who bring in up to $75,000 a year.

“Life is expensive – perhaps now more than ever – and the inability to tackle certain types of debt doesn’t necessarily mean that someone went on an irresponsible shopping spree,” said industry analyst Ted Rossman.

“Credit card debt, in particular, often results from a medical bill or unexpected car or home repair. Sometimes it’s necessary just to keep up with everyday expenses like putting food on the table.”

Despite parents’ generosity, Rossman says they need to be conscious of the potential pitfalls.

“If you still want to proceed, set clear expectations at the start about whether or not you expect to be paid back and when,” he said.

“And don’t let your children use you as a crutch forever. They need to establish their own emergency funds and healthy borrowing habits.”

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Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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