Families are Getting Savvier Paying for College

(StatePoint) College costs may be on the rise, but families are as determined as ever to make higher education a reality for their children. What’s more, families are becoming savvier about how they meet the expense, suggests a new study.

According to “How America Pays for College 2017,” a national study from Sallie Mae and Ipsos, students and parents shared paying for college responsibilities equally in academic year 2016-17, each contributing about one-third of the expense, with scholarships and grants covering most of the rest.

In addition, 98 percent of families surveyed took proactive measures in order to reduce college costs. That included choosing an in-state school, living at home, and enrolling in an accelerated program.

“Throughout our 10 years of conducting this study, families have consistently demonstrated they are determined to make college happen, and they’ve also become more value-conscious as they pay for higher education,” said Raymond J. Quinlan, chairman and chief executive officer, Sallie Mae.

For those families with college-bound students, Sallie Mae recommends a 1-2-3 approach.

• Maximize money that doesn’t need to be repaid. Scholarships and grants paid 35 percent of college costs last school year; and scholarships were used by 49 percent of all families.

You can get in on this action by utilizing free scholarship search tools from companies like Fastweb, Chegg, and Sallie Mae. To stay organized, maintain a spreadsheet of each scholarship’s details, including application due dates.

• Explore federal student loans. All college-bound students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, no matter what they believe their eligibility is – and repeat this every year they are in school. This is the key to securing federal and state financial aid for college. To learn more, visit fafsa.ed.gov.

• Consider a responsible private student loan. Regardless of cost, nearly all families (98 percent) agreed college is an investment in a student’s future, and 86 percent of families said they expected their child to attend college since he or she was preschool age or younger. Even further, 59 percent said they expected their child to pursue a graduate degree. Making these dreams happen may require seeking out a private student loan. Be sure you turn to a responsible lender so there are no surprises down the line when it comes time to pay back.

To learn more about “How America Pays for College 2017” visit SallieMae.com/HowAmericaPays.

Higher education remains an important aspect of the American dream for many families. As cost remains a deciding factor, more families are taking creative and proactive steps to make college affordable.

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