We are always pleased to see new data regarding trends in higher education, particularly when they involve the views of college parents and families. As a result, it is timely to see this is new research from Sallie Mae and Ipsos.
The clear majority of families believe higher education is well-worth the investment, and most students and parents are willing to stretch themselves financially to make it happen, according to “How America Values College 2018,” the national study from Sallie Mae, the nation’s saving, planning, and paying for college company, and Ipsos, an independent global market research company.
“It is especially heartening to see more families recognizing and planning for this expense against the broader backdrop of general economic optimism; clearly the challenges of the recent recession are firmly fixed in the minds of college-bound students and their parents alike.”
- Sixty-six percent of college-going families believe they are getting a good value for the price they’re paying for college: 36 percent report they are paying a fair price, 10 percent say they’re getting somewhat of a bargain, and 20 percent believe the education is worth every penny.
- Nearly 80 percent of families say going to college fulfills the American Dream. Eighty-three percent of families believe the student will earn more money with a college degree and the expected median starting salary range after college is $40,000-$59,000.
- The importance of a college education is rising; 77 percent of students and parents believe a college degree is more important now than it used to be.
“It would appear that families are making smarter decisions when it comes to considering how they pay for a college education – which itself is seen as increasingly essential in today’s competitive job market,” says Julia Clark, senior vice president, Ipsos. “It is especially heartening to see more families recognizing and planning for this expense against the broader backdrop of general economic optimism; clearly the challenges of the recent recession are firmly fixed in the minds of college-bound students and their parents alike.”
Families, even those willing to stretch financially, are taking deliberate, resourceful, and concrete steps to make college more affordable. Forty-five percent of college students are working year-round to earn money for school, and 37 percent of students live at home with parents or relatives to save on housing costs. Sixty-seven percent of students are cutting back their spending, and 24 percent of students are taking classes over a shorter period of time in order to graduate sooner and reduce costs.
“It is human nature not to want to overpay for an important investment, including a college education. Families resoundingly shared that college is worth the cost, and their resourcefulness made it more affordable,” said Raymond J. Quinlan, Chairman and CEO, Sallie Mae. “Still, there is work to do to equip more families with tools and information to create a plan to pay for college. Sallie Mae commits to providing this assistance, which will not only help families become better prepared to meet college costs, but also make them more confident in the process.”
Planning, and ultimately paying for college, involves terms and jargon that may leave families scratching their heads. When asked a series of true or false questions about certain paying-for-college terminology, 42 percent of families mistakenly believe work-study funds are automatic, more than 20 percent believe “free tuition” means college is free, and 19 percent believe the sticker price is what college will cost them.
“How America Values College 2018” reports the results of 1,907 online interviews Ipsos conducted between April 20 and May 25, 2018, of 957 American parents of undergraduate students and 950 18- to 24-year-old undergraduate students. The survey sample reflected a cross-section of key demographic variables in the United States. Respondents were able to take the survey in English or Spanish.
The complete report and a related infographic are available via Sallie Mae.