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How America Pays for College 2015: A national study by Sallie Mae and Ipsos

Now in its eighth edition, How America Pays for College 2015, a national study by Sallie Mae and Ipsos, captures how and how much families paid for college in the most recent academic year, as well as the attitudes and behaviors of parents and college students.

This year’s report reaffirms that nearly all families – 97 percent – see college as an important and worthwhile investment and nearly nine in 10 are willing to stretch themselves financially to meet the cost of college. The report did reveal some notable differences from prior years, however, in how much families spent on college and the sources they used to pay for college.

Specifically, the survey of 1,600 undergraduate students ages 18-24 and parents of undergraduate students ages 18-24 found:

  • Parent income and savings covered the largest share of college costs, 32 percent, surpassing scholarships and grants (30 percent) for the first time since 2010.
  • Families spent an average of $24,164 on college—which includes tuition, room and board, and other indirect expenses— 16-percent more than last year, and the most significant increase in five years.
  • Six in 10 families did not borrow to pay for college; among families who did borrow, the student signed for nearly three-fourths of the amount borrowed.
  • Fewer parents were extremely worried that the student would not find a job after graduating or that student loan rates would increase.
  • Seventy-four percent of students worked at some point during the year to help cover costs, on average 22 hours per week.
  • Only two in five families said they had a plan to pay for college, but those who did spent more on college, covered more of the cost with income and savings, and students borrowed 40-percent less than families who didn’t plan.

Read the full report.

Paying for college

Average percentage of total cost of attendance paid from each source




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