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Families Paid More for College Last Year and Covered Half of Costs Out of Pocket, According to Sallie Mae’s ‘How America Pays for College 2023’


FAFSA ® Completion Rates Hold Steady But 72% of Families Unable to Correctly Identify When the FAFSA® Becomes Available

Families reported spending $28,026 on college for academic year 2022-23—an 11% increase from $25,313 in 2021-22— and covered half of expenses with income and savings, according to new data in How America Pays For College 2023,” the annual study from Sallie Mae® and Ipsos. Scholarships and grants were used by 76% of families and covered 29% of costs, and 41% of families reported borrowing for college, covering 19% of costs.

Snapshot of Sallie Mae's How America Pays for College 2023 Report (Graphic: Business Wire)

Snapshot of Sallie Mae's How America Pays for College 2023 Report (Graphic: Business Wire)

About 7 in 10 families reported completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), but roughly the same number of families (72%) were unable to correctly identify when the FAFSA®becomes available. The FAFSA® is so critical for students and families to complete because it’s a gateway to more than $112 billion scholarships, grants, and federal financial aid. The recent announcement that the new 2024-2025 FAFSA®will be shifted from October to December could add to more confusion for students and families.

“Students and families continue to view higher education as an important investment in their future but are also looking for ways to make it more affordable and consistently eliminate schools from consideration based on cost,” said Jenny Berg, vice president, Ipsos. “Unfortunately, families may be leaving free money on the table due to ongoing confusion about the FAFSA and eligibility for scholarships and grants.”

Four in 10 families did not use scholarships to cover college costs, most often citing a lack of awareness and low likelihood of winning for not applying. In fact, 45% of families believe scholarships are only available for students with exceptional grades or abilities. To connect more students and families to scholarships, Scholly—the top scholarship search app—is now free through Sallie Mae. To date, students have won more than $100 million in scholarships through Scholly.

About half of families (53%) said they had a plan to pay for college, and 61% said borrowing was always part of the plan. Fewer than half (44%), however, have discussed who will be responsible for making payments on student loans.

“With federal student loan payments set to resume in October, now’s the time to start mapping out a plan,” said Rick Castellano, vice president, Sallie Mae. “Federal servicers have changed for many borrowers, so knowing who and how much you owe is critical and so is understanding the various options available to transition back in repayment.”

“How America Pays for College 2023” reports the results of Ipsos' online interviews of 1,213 undergraduate students and 986 parents of undergraduate students by Ipsos between March 31-May 8, 2023.

Access the complete report at

Sallie Mae (Nasdaq: SLM) believes education and life-long learning, in all forms, help people achieve great things. As the leader in private student lending, we provide financing and know-how to support access to college and offer products and resources to help customers make new goals and experiences, beyond college, happen. Learn more at Commonly known as Sallie Mae, SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

Ipsos is one of the largest market research and polling companies globally. At Ipsos, our passionately curious research professionals, analysts, and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions, and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers, or employees. Visit to learn more.

Category: Student Loans
Category: How America Pays for College
Category: FAFSA

Caron Jackson

Source: Sallie Mae

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Snapshot of Sallie Mae's How America Pays for College 2023 Report (Graphic: Business Wire) 2550 x 3300 jpg 1.87 MB
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