We are pleased to share the results of the 2016 biennial survey of college parents. The findings of this report are consistent with our prior the two prior research studies and confirms that “college families are an important source of support for increasing student success and college completion.”
The 2016 survey of more than 510 College Parents conducted by College Parents of America through internet channels and subscribers in late June of 2016. We have a high degree of confidence that the survey is directionally correct and will be valuable to colleges and universities as well as other stakeholders interested in increasing rates of college completion.
College parents are aware that not all students who start college complete it. In fact, the overall six-year completion rate for first-time-in college degree-seeking students who started college in fall 2009 was 52.9%. 2016 NSC: Completing College: A State-Level View of Student Attainment Rates
Despite this fact, parents surveyed in the 2016 study have a high degree of confidence in their college students.
- 94% of parents surveyed believe their student is academically prepared to complete college.
- Indicating that issues other than academic readiness may disrupt their student education:
- 76% of parents surveyed are confident in their student’s ability to complete college.
- 18% of parents surveyed are concerned about their child’s ability to complete college.
Parent’s surveyed are generous in providing financial support. The College Board reports in its 2015 Trends in College Pricing that in-state public universities cost an average of $19,548 and private universities average 43,921 per year. As a result, the financial support of parents is vital to helping students afford the cost of a higher education.
- Parents are generous, with nearly 45% reporting that they are contributing more than 75% of the financial support for their student’s education.
- 71% of parents surveyed report that college is the largest or 2nd largest investment in their family financial life.
- Nearly 30% of parents surveyed report that college is the largest investment in their family financial life.
- 59% of parents surveyed report that it would be difficult to continue helping pay for college if “either myself or my spouse suffered an unexpected job loss”
Despite the size of the investment college families often make, many college parents are unaware of the risks facing either their investment or students.
Institutional & Refund Policies
- Only 24% of parents surveyed indicate that the college refund policy was disclosed to them during the enrollment process.
- 67% of parents surveyed indicate that they have no idea how the school would handle a refund if their student was unable to complete classes an unexpected illness or injury.
- 51% of parents surveyed do not recall schools disclosing specific information regarding campus crime or sexual assault information contained within the government mandated CLERY Act reports
- More than 1/3 of parents surveyed do not recall schools disclosing specific information regarding their college refund or student housing policies.
Parents are concerned about their capacity to financially support their student if something unexpected happens to them or their student.
Concerns & Services to Parents:
- 23% of parents surveyed indicate that they could not pay for an additional semester of classes to make up for the non-refunded financial losses due to a withdrawal
- 51% of parents surveyed indicate that they could pay for an additional semester of classes to make up for the non-refunded financial losses due to a withdrawal but it would be difficult
- 39% of parents surveyed may not have sufficient life insurance coverage to pay for 4 years of college
- 5% of parents surveyed report not owning a personal life insurance policy
- 48% of parents surveyed report that they worry about the cost to replace things like their student’s laptop computer/iPad being stolen or damaged
- 46% of parents surveyed worry that their student may be under-employed or fail to secure a job that pays enough to cover the cost of their student loans
Parents are connected to their students and the institutions they attend.
Parent Involvement, Communications & Distance
- More than 2/3 of parents surveyed report that they will participate in family events including move-in, orientation or family weekend.
- 36% of college parents surveyed communicate daily or multiple times per day with their student
- 40% of parents surveyed report that their student lives more than 4 hours away.