Most parents would sacrifice anything for their child to attend college. When there is not enough money for tuition, some parents opt to take money for their retirement savings accounts. This is a bad idea, and here’s why:

Consider the long-term

When retirement savings are spent, the money is gone forever, and there is no guarantee that it can be replaced. Loss of a job or an injury could leave you without income, and a degree doesn’t come with a guarantee that your child will find a job. With less money of your own, you will not be able to help your child or yourself.

Retirement savings accounts charge penalties for early withdrawals. These withdrawals are also viewed as income by the IRS, meaning you’ll have to pay taxes on it.

What to do if college is far away

Just like most retirement savings accounts, 529 plans deduct a specified amount out of each of your paychecks. When your child is ready for college, those savings can be used to pay for tuition and other eligible expenses.

Money placed in these accounts is invested, so you will earn more money than you have saved by the time your child is ready for school.

What to do if college is coming soon

If there are no other options to pay for school, consider student loans. Teach your child how to determine which loans are best. Encourage them to get a part-time job and save so that they can pay off the loan as quickly as possible.

You are able to consider dipping into your retirement funds because you have worked and saved money. Don’t deprive your child of that experience. It’s a teachable moment for you child to work through financial hurdles with a loving parent by his or her side.