According to a survey of 120 students, conducted by the Ewha Voice, 95 percent receive some kind of financial assistance from their parents. Among them, 27.5 percent get full financial support from their parents for school tuition, private tuition fees, allowances, and living expenses. Another 37.5 percent said they receive all their educational expenses, including school tuition and private tutoring fee, from their parents.
“I want to concentrate on my studies and my parents prefer that too. So rather than getting a part-time job to earn some money, I decided to receive full support,” said Kim Hyun-ha (Korean Literature, 4).
Among the remaining students, 24.2 percent just receive college tuition fees, 5.8 percent said they only get allowances and living expenses from their parents, and only 5 percent support all of their financial expenses themselves. Students who do not rely on their parents assert that being economically independent is one of the duties that university students should take. “I became economically independent since I thought that 20 is old enough to take responsiblity for oneself,” said Shin Min-young (Education, 2). Then, what are the main reasons for the rate high financial dependency on parents?
High tuition fees and private tutoring costs was the answer of 55 percent of the students. Most private and public universities, including Ewha, increased tuition fees from 6 to 14 percent this year. Similarly, private tuition fees have also increased. Private English institutions inSeoul have increased their fees by as much as 390 thousand won per month, an increase of 70 thousand won. All these expenses have become a great burden to university students, 77 percent of whom pay for additional study outside their university, according to Albamon.
Cultural issue also seem to play some part in students’ financial dependence on their parents, as 25.8 percent of students surveyed said that Korean society had a presumption that “it is normal to receive financial support from parents.” A Korean tendency toward overprotection was another point mentioned by 12.5 percent of people surveyed. “I guess because parents have fewer children to take care of, they want their children to have an easy life without financial worries,” said Lee Su-bin (Clothes & Textiles, 3).
However, unlike Korea, many countries do not have a culture of student dependency. In North America, it is a common for students to live independently when they reach the age of 18. “Most of students apply for student loans to take care of their tuition. Only those who attend private universities with high tuition may rely much upon the financial support of their parents,” said Professor Joe Sung-eun (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies). In the United Kingdom, where students with UK citizenship or residence are charged low tuition fees, students who support themselves financially are also a widely accepted norm. “It is possible for us to support our own living since, apart from college tuition, we rarely pay for private education,” said Surekha Thangarajah (PlymouthUniversity, 3). In the Netherlands, too, students earn their own allowances and tuition--usually because tuition is cheap or free at European universities.
“Compared to other OECD countries, Korea’s educational expenses are very high,” said Professor Kim Ahn-na (Education). According to Sung Chi-hoon, the president of YonseiUniversity, among OECD countries, Korean public university tuition fees were the third most expensive. “Without government effort to reduce educational costs, it will be difficult for students to take care of their own tuition,” said Kim. Ewha students seemed to agree with 52.5 percent saying that increased financial support from the school would reduce their dependency on their parents. Other solutions to decrease financial dependency on parents included providing more education to students to increase economic awareness (23.3 percent), promoting part-time jobs for students (21.6 percent), and changing the prevailing thought that it is parents’ obligation to support their children (2.5 percent).