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How America Pays for College 2009: A national study by Sallie Mae and Gallup

Sallie Mae's "How America Pays for College 2009" study (PDF 2.16MB), conducted by Gallup, finds American families are making the investment in higher education the smart way — by pursuing grants and scholarships more frequently than borrowing. Based on a nationally representative survey of college-going students and parents of undergraduates, the study found that:

  • 58% of families invested in higher education last year without borrowing
  • 67% are confident in their ability to continue to meet cost of college in current economy
  • 51% received grants and scholarships
  • 25% of students borrowed federal loans
  • 12% of students borrowed private education loans
  • 5% used credit cards to pay for college expenses

How the average American family pays for college

Average percentage of total cost of attendance paid from each source

Released in August 2009, the study confirmed that families deeply value higher education, with 91% agreeing that continuing education leads to a better quality of life.

"How America Pays for College 2009" (PDF 2.16MB) is the second annual study of college students and parents.