Education

PERSONAL FINANCE: Americans spending more for college out-of-pocket

2fe55859(StatePoint) The Bank of Mom and Dad is open for business, as parent out-of-pocket spending has become the number one source of college funding. In fact, 62 percent of families did not borrow to pay for college last year, according to a new report.

The national study, “How America Pays for College 2015,” from Sallie Mae and Ipsos, now in its eighth year, found that parent income and savings covered the largest share of college costs — 32 percent — surpassing scholarships and grants at 30 percent, for the first time since 2010.

Families covered the balance of college costs using student borrowing, student income and savings, parent borrowing, and contributions from relatives and friends.

While families spent 16 percent more on college in academic year 2014-2015, the report found that fewer families are worried that economic factors would affect their ability to pay for college, fewer eliminated colleges from consideration due to cost, and fewer took cost-saving measures to control college costs.

“The increase in the amount families are spending appears to be less about the rising cost of college and more about the choices parents and students are making about how they pay for college,” says Michael Gross, vice president and head of the higher education practice at Ipsos Public Affairs. “Traditional economic concerns, such as job loss, declining home values, and decreased value of savings, are less worrying for parents this year, allowing families greater freedom to concentrate on college.”

Still, while the majority of families agree college is an important and worthwhile investment — and are making such responsible decisions to help pay for it as filing for federal aid, reducing personal spending and working while attending school — only 40 percent of families have a plan to pay for college.

“College remains a priority for parents, and they are feeling more confident as they reach into their own pockets and put their money where their values are,” says Raymond Quinlan, Chairman and CEO, Sallie Mae. “It’s gratifying to see families are borrowing responsibly and making efforts to reduce costs.”

In an effort to move that stubborn statistic and encourage more families to make a college financing plan, the experts at Sallie Mae are expanding their suite of free tools and information. To get started, they recommend these three steps:

• Start with money you won’t have to repay. Supplement your college savings and income by maximizing scholarships, grants, and work-study.

• Explore federal student loans. Apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.

• Consider a responsible private education loan. Fill the gap between your available resources and the cost of college.

To view the complete report, visit SallieMae.com/HowAmericaPaysForCollege. For free tools, such as a college planning calculator, scholarship search and the College Ahead mobile app, visit SallieMae.com/PlanforCollege.

For many families, college is one of the biggest investments they will ever make. Fortunately, as the cost of college trends upward, so too is the incidence of responsible decision-making when it comes to financing an education.

September 17, 2015
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