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How America Pays for College 2012: A national study by Sallie Mae and Ipsos

Sallie Mae's "How America Pays for College 2012" (PDF, 1.3MB) study, conducted by Ipsos, finds that:

  • 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 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 percent enrolled, compared to 23 percent two years ago. In fact, overall, families paid 5 percent less for college compared to one year ago.
  • 35% percent 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.

Telephone interviews about how families paid for college in academic year 2011-12 were conducted with 801 undergraduate college students, ages 18 to 24, and 800 parents of undergraduates.

For more information about this report and how families are paying for college, view the infographic: