Higher Ed Costs Drive College Decisions For High School Students, Says College Savings Foundation's 5th Annual Survey

PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The nonstop rise of college costs is impacting the choice of college for over three quarters of today's high school students, and is causing many seniors to change their higher education choices even as they finalize their admissions and financial packages.  These timely findings are part of the College Savings Foundation's (CSF) fifth annual How Youth Plan to Fund College survey.  

An overwhelming majority of high school students, 82 percent, believe it is their responsibility to fund part or all of college.  This is influencing nearly half, 49 percent, of the seniors, juniors, and sophomores surveyed, in their plans to go to public college, and 17 percent to community college.  Only 21 percent intend to go to private college. 

Students are also widening their perception of what higher education means.  One-in-five high school students (21 percent) said they think of vocational or career schools in the same way that they think of public or private college, even though only five percent said they planned on taking that route.

Seniors in particular were attuned to the high stakes college decision process:  88 percent know how much college costs and this sticker shock made 28 percent of seniors change their choices, with almost every one opting for less costly public, local or lower-cost community schools.

Still, most students are not going it alone.  The vast majority is engaging their parents in the college funding struggle, with nearly 77 percent of all high school students talking to their parents about how much college costs, as well as their parents' involvement in funding college. 

A glimmer of good news in parental planning is that a solid 58 percent said that their parents are saving for college. Of those, 29 percent are using 529 college savings plans, and 38 percent had started when their children were born. Over half, 54 percent, said that their parents had saved more than $5,000.

"Students have no choice but to be better educated about the costs and various strategies for paying for college.  We are glad to see young people talking with their parents and together tackling how they can achieve this important goal," said Mary Morris, Chair of CSF, a leading nonprofit helping American families save for their children's higher education.

How do today's high schoolers plan to pay for college?

  • Financial Aid: 82% are definitely or possibly expecting to receive it.
  • Scholarships: Nearly 78% definitely or possibly expect one.
  • College loans: 72% definitely or possibly expecting to borrow funds. 80% are worried about how to pay them back.
  • Savings: 74% have definitely or possibly decided to save for college; 44% have started.  

For more findings and charts, see CSF website www.collegesavingsfoundation.org

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