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How America Pays for College 2011: A national study by Sallie Mae and Ipsos

Sallie Mae's "How America Pays for College 2011, (PDF, 1.03MB) study, conducted by Ipsos, finds that students attend college with increasingly practical reasons in mind: better jobs and earning more money. Based on a nationally representative survey of 1,600 college students and parents, the study found that:

  • Ninety percent of students strongly agreed that college is an investment in the future, an increase from 84 percent in 2010.
  • 70 percent of students and parents strongly agreed that a college education is necessary for their desired occupation and that college is required to earn more, up from 63 and 59 percent, respectively, in 2010.
  • Virtually all families reported taking cost-savings measures, such as attending lower-cost colleges, living at home, or going to school part time. On average, families reported paying 9 percent less for college than they had the previous year.
  • Parent sources, including savings, income and loans, funded the largest segment of the average family’s total college expenses, at 37 percent. Students assumed direct responsibility for about one-quarter of the total cost of college, contributing 11 percent from income and savings and 15 percent through borrowing. Grants and scholarships covered 33 percent of college costs in 2010-2011, up from 23 percent the previous year.

How the average American family pays for college

Average percentage of total cost of attendance paid from each source