How Do Americans Pay For College?

The latest national study on how Americans pay for college is out from Sallie Mae and Ipsos. The 2014 breakdown:

Student borrowing and parent borrowing were at 18% and 9%, respectively, in 2013–so that’s a pretty big decline in borrowing. Other key findings:

  • A strong belief in the value of college. 98 percent of families agree that college is a worthwhile investment and more than eight in ten families indicate they are willing to stretch themselves financially to obtain the opportunities afforded by higher education.
  • Making deliberate decisions to meet college costs. Virtually every family took at least one step to make college more affordable, and on average families took 5 steps.  This year, families reported the highest enrollment in two-year public colleges since the survey began (34 percent, up from 30 percent last year).
    • Nearly 70 percent opted to attend institutions in-state this year.
    • More than 65 percent cut back on entertainment/vacation costs
    • More than half chose to live at home or with relatives.
  • Greater out-of-pocket spending. Families spent more out of pocket (42 percent of college costs) while overall borrowing (22 percent of college costs) was at the lowest level in five years. Low-income students, in particular, reduced their reliance on borrowed funds when paying for college last year.

Read the full report.

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