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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

August 6, 2014 at 5:00 AM

College finance trends: Students, families borrowing less

Michael Osbun / Op Art

Michael Osbun / Op Art

Has the national anxiety about student loan debt caused parents and students alike to pay more college costs out-of-pocket, and choose community college over four-year institutions? 

Those were some of the possible takeaways from  “How America Pays for College,” an annual report by financial services company Sallie Mae.

In 2014, students and families borrowed funds to pay 22 percent

of the cost of college, a decline from 27 percent in the prior two years.

Students who answered the survey also enrolled in two-year colleges at a higher rate than in previous years. About 34 percent went to a community college, compared to 30 percent the previous year. Enrollment at four-year public colleges dropped from 46 percent to 41 percent.

Perhaps, then, this explains another fact in the report — that while American families paid for more of the cost of college from income and savings in 2014, they spent less overall. The average amount of college costs coming from savings and income increased by $893, but the total spent on college decreased by $295. Community colleges are, after all, less expensive.

The report also found that students and their families were taking steps to make college more affordable. More students reported going to in-state schools, and living at home. Some students and families alike worked more hours to make extra money. Many families reined in spending elsewhere to help pay the tuition bills, such as forgoing a vacation.

The report paints a national picture, and did not look at the trends in individual states, so it’s hard to know if the numbers reflect trends in Washington.

Comments | Topics: higher education, Sallie Mae, student loans

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