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College choices increasingly driven by money, says survey

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Student loans were the third most common source to pick up the bill for courses, housing and books with the average student borrowing $8,815 in federal loans. The Sallie Mae report said that while slightly fewer students borrowed to pay for college, those who did took out larger loans.

The rate for those loans was the subject of debate in the Senate last week, as lawmakers considered a compromise that would offer some students lower rates for the next few years but would prescribe higher rates for future classes. The Senate is expected to vote on that White House-backed compromise on Wednesday.

"Rates on every single new college loan will come down this school year, offering relief to nearly 11 million borrowers," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday.

The White House estimates the average undergraduate student would save $1,500 in interest charges if Congress acts before leaving town for the August recess.

"We have moved into a post-recession reality in how people pay for college," Ducich said.

Parents' enthusiasm for college has not shriveled, though. The survey found 85 percent of parents saw college bills as an investment in their children's future.

"We're in a new normal where big ticket items like college, families will pay for them but won't stress about them too much," said Cliff Young, managing director at Ipsos.

One-fifth of parents added work hours to pay for college and half of students increased their work hours, too. The report found 57 percent of families said students were living at home or with relatives, up from 41 percent last year and 44 percent in 2011.

Among other strategies employed to deal with costs:

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