Sallie Mae survey reveals high school seniors spend more time planning for prom than financial planning for college

With graduation season around the corner, company provides tips to students about how to make fiscally responsible choices for education

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 8:08 am EDT



Public Company Information:

"With the right tools, planning how to pay for college is time well spent"

A survey conducted by Sallie Mae, the nation’s No. 1 financial services company specializing in education, reveals that about half of senior girls shopped for two or more weeks to pick out their dream dress for prom and half of senior boys spent two or more weeks deciding whom to ask for the big event. But when it comes to college, nearly half of high school seniors spent five or fewer hours learning how to pay for it.

The survey indicates that most girls expect to spend $200 or less for their dress and boys saved $200 or less for their prom expenses—a fraction of the average $17,000 price tag for college.

“With the right tools, planning how to pay for college is time well spent,” said Joe DePaulo, executive vice president, Sallie Mae. “We are committed to providing students with information and resources they need as they plan for this life investment.”

Sallie Mae recommends the following tips and resources as the Class of 2011 graduates from high school and prepares for college this fall:

Ask for the gift of education. A picture frame can be pretty but the gift of education can last a lifetime. Sallie Mae makes it easy with Ugift, which enables loved ones to give directly to an eligible 529 college savings plan.

It’s not too late to apply for federal grants. Even though some state deadlines have passed, students can still complete the FAFSA to apply for federal grants and search for last-minute scholarships.

Make summer count. Get work experience and extra funds with a summer job. If you can’t find one right away, offer your services as a volunteer.

Friend your financial aid office. Talk to the campus financial aid office, especially if family finances have changed since financial aid forms were submitted.

Be smart about student loans. If you need to borrow, explore federal student loans first and fill the gap with responsible private loans. Sallie Mae’s Smart Option Student Loan encourages families to make at least small payments while in school to help save on interest costs. More at

Make a plan. Be sure to have a plan to pay for an entire degree—not just one year at a time. Sallie Mae’s free Education Investment Planner can help. Students can explore federal or private student loans, estimate monthly loan payments and project the starting salary needed after graduation to keep payments manageable. More at

About the survey: From April 15 – 22, 2011, Sallie Mae conducted an online survey of more than 500 high school seniors, age 17-18 years old, planning to go to college.

Sallie Mae (NASDAQ: SLM) is the nation’s No. 1 financial services company specializing in education. Celebrating 40 years of making a difference, Sallie Mae continues to turn education dreams into reality for American families, today serving 25 million customers. With products and services that include 529 college savings plans, Upromise rewards, scholarship search and planning tools, education loans, insurance, and online banking, Sallie Mae offers solutions that help families save, plan, and pay for college. Sallie Mae also provides financial services to hundreds of college campuses as well as to federal and state governments. 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.


Deborah Hohler (617) 454-6741