Who pays for college?

Posted: July 27, 2015 at 9:32 am, Last Updated: July 24, 2015 at 9:33 am

With Kirk Heffelmire

Much has been said and written about the ballooning ($1.2 trillion and counting) student debt in the U.S.. But what does that mean in practice?  A recent study by Sallie Mae puts it in context.

– This last year, families spent $24K in college per student, about the same as they did in 2010, but 40% more than they did in 2007 ($17K).

– Families of students in private schools spend $42K vs. families in public universities, $23K.

– 38% of families borrow to pay for college (varying from 56% of those going to private schools, to 43% of students going to public universities, or 22% in community colleges).

– Families that borrow, borrow about $13K and spend $7K more than families that don’t.

– How the typical family pays for college:

37% parents and friends (32% of that is parents)

30% grants and scholarships

22% loans (16% assumed by student, 6% by parents)

11% student’s own income

Other interesting findings: Of all students, 74% worked at some point during the year, and 70% of those worked the entire year. Working students averaged 22 hours of work per week. For graduate school, 45% of families with a current undergraduate expected the student to attend graduate school.


Write to Ángel Cabrera at president@gmu.edu

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