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HANDOUT 4: Case Study — The Miller Family

The Miller family is facing some financial challenges. The oldest child is applying to private colleges with tuition costs that will add a significant financial burden to the family budget. It is the end of a long week and the question of how to pay for college has come up during the family's traditional Friday pizza night.

Role 1

You are the head of household and the primary breadwinner. Work has been very stressful lately and one of your longtime work associates was let go last week. The household budget is straining under the routine costs of sustaining a family of five and you feel guilty that you did not plan better for college when the children were young and suspect that your child will have to take on large college loans to go to their first choice school.

Role 2

You are the spouse and you are not currently employed outside the home. You have a bit of a book obsession and you have some credit card bills that your spouse does not know about. You want the best for your children but you don't really like to talk about money.

Role 3

You are a high school senior, planning to go away to college. Your parents have been generous to you throughout your growing up years and your expectation is that they will continue to support your dream of going to private college in another state. You have a good academic record and expect to be awarded a scholarship.

Role 4

You are a grandparent. You want to see your grandchildren do great things and you have indicated a willingness to provide some financial support. It has been fifty years since you attended college and you were shocked by the current cost of a college education. After hearing about the high cost of private school, you are adamant that the best choice is a state school.

Role 5

You are a young adult child who stopped by to join the family for dinner. You have heard stories about your parents' childhoods and know that the family's primary breadwinner grew up in very difficult socioeconomic circumstances. You also know how proud they feel of of their ability to provide for the family's comfort. You feel anxious knowing that your parents have to make difficult choices.

Group Discussion

  • What healthy and/or unhealthy communication practices did you observe among the role players?
  • How might people's reticence to discuss money directly play into the healthy/unhealthy communications?
  • What other healthy behaviors might the players have engaged in, given their role and circumstances?

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Last updated on Friday, November 22, 2013.

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