How America Pays for College

By Sam Rosensohn

Students Are Going About it Differently

College students – like the rest of the world – are changing the way they go about making ends meet. So, if your high school student thinks that it’s his/her job to suffer through high school, and your job to suffer through paying for college, you might want to take a look at this national study by Sallie Mae on how undergraduate families’ attitudes toward paying for college are changing. The national survey noted that 40 percent of families and students planned for paying for college, and the savings for those families that planned was 3.5 times greater than for those families that didn’t plan for college.

 98% of students are taking steps to make college more affordable

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

attend college in their home state to lower costs


work at least part of the year


live at home

1 out of 3

1 out of 3

are attending community college as the first step toward a bachelor’s degree


cut down on personal spending


are working toward earning their degree faster

When choosing a college, cost ranks third in importance.


1. Academic Program


3. Financial Considerations


2. Personal Choice


Having a Plan Pays Off

2 out of 5

2 out of 5

families created a plan to pay for college
(includes saving, anticipating and researching costs and expenses, and identifying sources of funding)

In Families Who Plan:

3.5 x

Parents save 3.5 times more than non-planners


Students borrow 33% less money than non-planners

According to the national study, the majority of American families – 97 percent – believe college is an investment in their children’s future, and almost nine in ten are willing to stretch themselves financially to pay for college. This year’s report reveals some shifts in how families are making college more affordable and parents’ expectations of their college students. For instance, Sallie Mae reports that scholarships and grants are responsible for almost 35% of college funding.

Click here to read the full report.