Parents are critical partners and participants in college students’ lives. In fact, multiple studies detail the importance of parents in getting students into college, keeping them there and helping them graduate. Today, we’re detailing one of the crucial roles that parents play in college students’ lives: financial supports of student education.

Perhaps when students think of the most conspicuous roles their parents play in colle education, they will first think of financial supports. It’s certainly been a strong topic for College Parents of America humor:

However, the financial aid that parents provide to college students can be the difference between an abandoned dream of college education and a completed degree. One study at Arizona State University showed that students of parents who handle the finances of college costs are more likely than students relying on their own earnings or on loans to persist (remain in school) toward a degree.

Later studies, like this one by Dowd of UMASS Boston, concluded that it’s not how much parents give, it’s what parent contributions allow students to do. Parental income correlates with overall graduation, but not necessarily second-year persistence. However, if parental financial aid contributed to a student living on campus instead of at home, persistence and graduation rates rise. One would predict a similar correlation with persistence if parental contributions allow for full-time enrollment instead of part-time enrollment.

HERI, in July 2014, noted that financial aid measures “significantly and substantively predicted whether students returned to their home institution for the fall of their sophomore year.” Grants and parental resources positively predicted student retention while relying more heavily on loans negatively predicted retention.

So, as you sign those tuition checks, pay for housing or just help your student to rent a book, remember that those dollars matter to your child’s degree persistence.