Studies show that kids who pay for their own college are more successful in earning a degree. The likely reason is that they feel a lot more inclined to work hard because this is THEIR investment and no one elses. It will be their own loss too.
Further, have you seen how much a retirement home or nursing home costs? It's exorbitant as all get out for a half decent place. To the tune of thousands of dollars a month to place your loved one in a home with adequate and professional care. If you choose to keep your parents at home, it's even higher for in home care if that becomes necessary.
I have a son, and it's more important to me to fund my own retirement so I don't become a burden on him when he is just getting a foothold in his career or starting a family of his own. That doesn't mean I can't help him with college. I can help him be successful in many other ways than paying for his tuition. Statistically speaking, he'll have a better shot at a great career if he's able to live at home for free while he works an unpaid internship. I can provide that, then the great job he can get as a result will pay for the tuition. If I fund my own retirement, I can leave him with a house and some money when I die. I'll get no such blessing from my mom, and she's not paying for my degree.
Not paying for your child's tuition is not the end-all-be-all of giving them a good start in life. If you can afford to do both, super, but if you can't, I would say it is smarter to take care of yourself so you don't become a burden, and to find other ways to lessen the tuition burden on your child.
When it comes time to retire, the happiness and success of your children will be of far more importance than the size of your bank account. Equipping your children with the tools to succeed in life will win you their gratitude while ensuring that they have the resources necessary when they are older to help you as needed.
Funding your retirement is much more beneficial in the long run than funding your children's college. Many, many children fund their own college by working, receiving financial assistance, and by working towards honours and awards. It is very possible for students to pay their way, even through financial assistance, whereas nobody else is going to fund your retirement. You NEED your retirement fund to be stable and secure upon retirement. That money is required, and money for your child's education that has other options of availability is not.
It is way more important to fund your retirement than your child's college. This is because a teenager entering college can get a scholarship, loan or work to pay for school. If a parent spends all their retirement on their child's college, then this child will likely have to support the parent in old age. This will put more of a strain on the child then paying for their own schooling.
I do want my children to try very hard for scholarships, grants, and things like that; But they are more important than I am. I would rather help them pay for college than save for retirement. It's all circumstantial though. My children are very young and I have no idea what kind of scholars they will be. If they study hard, make great grades, and really want to succeed and they need that help, I will be there. If they want to slack off and aren't that interested then I will find other ways to be there for things they need, I am here to help them, guide them and teach them to find their way in life. I wil make that choice when we get there.