Over the last 12 years that I have lived in Boston, I have encountered many of LDS students who have come here for graduate school (including my wife and me). I realize that what I am going to discuss is a very sensitive issue, but it is something that has bothered me for many years. It came to a head a few months ago when a member of a neighboring ward (who stays at home and whose husband is in graduate school) gave us her leftover baby formula as her son would not take it anymore. We offered to pay her for it but she said “oh it was from WIC and was free, so don’t worry about it.” This brought back memories of the many couples I have known who have had 2-3 kids while in graduate school, living on student loans, and often, living a better lifestyle and driving a nicer car than many working families in our ward. The medical care for the child’s birth was paid for by the state and the formula, diapers, etc were from WIC and welfare. Yet, when they graduate, they go off and begin making six figures the first year out of school.

I have asked some of these people who are friends how they can justify it – the response has been “I will pay enough in taxes in the future, I am just getting some of what I deserve.” I am bothered by this for several reasons.

First, it seems unethical at best and downright dishonest at worst to “milk” the system knowing full well that you really don’t need it. If you really can’t afford the kids, then don’t have them or take out more student loans to pay for them. My wife and I waited 10 years after getting married to have kids until we felt we could adequately provide what we felt they needed.

Second, the welfare system is not set up for these students, but is for those, often single mothers, who are working at a low paying job trying to raise their children. They “deserve” the help and need it. If graduate students are using these resources, then there is less available for the truly deserving.

Third, if a graduate student couple really needs welfare help, then fine, but live frugally in the interim. Too many of these couples will drive a new car, live in apartments that are very expensive and wear the nicest clothes, while they are milking the welfare system.

Fourth, I am paying for these students welfare with my taxes. I feel like I should not be paying taxes for some future dentist because he and his wife want to milk the system.

Perhaps the problem is with all of the pressure in Mormonism to start having kids the instant you get married, regardless of your financial circumstances. Am I off base on this? Should I be frustrated or am I just jealous that I did not “milk the system” when I was in graduate school…