College Costs Becoming a Major Factor in Choice

July 17, 2012

While deciding on what college to attend, students are considering cost a major factor in their decision. In a recent national survey of dependent undergraduates and their families, conducted by the lender Sallie Mae, nearly 70 percent of college students rejected certain higher education schools because of the price tag. That’s an increase of 14 percent from 2009.

The annual survey, How America Pays for College, also revealed the challenges many undergraduates and their families face trying to pay for college and their increased dependency on student loans. The study, which is now on its fifth year, found that between the ages of 18 and 24, more high-income families are using federal loans to pay for college.

Students shouldering more of the burden

How America Pays for College 2012 Snapshot, courtesy of Sallie Mae. Click to enlarge.

The survey also found:

  • 83% of college students and parents strongly agreed that higher education is an investment in the future, college is needed now more than ever (70%), and is the path to earning more money (69%).
  • Drawing from savings, income and loans, students paid 30% of the total bill, up from 24% four years ago, while parents covered 37% of the bill, down from 45% four years ago.
  • The percentage of families who eliminated college choices because of cost rose to the highest level (69%) in the five years since the study began. Virtually all families exercised cost-savings measures, including living at home (51%), adding a roommate (55%), and reducing spending by parents (50%) and students (66%).
  • In 2012, families continued the shift toward lower-cost community college, with 29% enrolled, compared to 23% two years ago. In fact, overall, families paid 5% less for college compared to one year ago.
  • 35% of students borrowed education loans to pay for college: 25% borrowing federal loans only, 9% using a mix of federal and private loans, and 1% tapping private loans only.

For more information, read How America Pays for College in its entirety.

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