Skip to main contentSkip to login
logo-white Created with Sketch.


How America Pays for College

A snapshot of the 10th national study by Sallie Mae® and Ipsos

This annual report looks at undergraduate families' attitudes toward college, how much they spent, and the sources they used to pay for it.

View the full report

Get additional resources

Students and parents equally share responsibility for paying college costs

Scholarships and grants cover the largest share in a decade


of costs are covered by scholarships and grants


of costs are covered by parent income and savings


of costs are covered by student borrowing


of costs are covered by student income and savings


of costs are covered by parent borrowing


of costs are covered by relatives and friends

Nearly half of families use scholarships for college

87% percent of families who use scholarships get them from the college

75% get scholarships from private, nonprofit, or community organizations

65% receive scholarships from states or local governments

Students expect to step up when it's time to pay back

84% of students with loans expect to be solely responsible for repaying

21% of students feel solely responsible for repaying loans taken out by their parents

Amounts spent and attitudes vary across the country


The average amount families paid in 2017

How different regions compare

Students from the Northeast are

most likely to attend 4-year private colleges

$35,431 paid on average

Students from the South are

most likely to attend college in their home state

$20,953 paid on average

Students from the Midwest are

most likely to work more hours to make college affordable

$21,577 paid on average

Students from the West

have the highest rate of part-time enrollment

$19,181 paid on average

Do families think paying more for college equals a better education?

55% say always or sometimes

45% say cost has no relationship to quality of education


eliminated a college from consideration due to its cost

Most families expect their child to go to college, but many don’t have a plan for paying

86% of families always knew their child would go to college

but only 39% of families made a plan to pay for college

(includes saving, anticipating and researching costs and expenses, identifying sources of funding, and more)


Additional resources

How America Pays for College 2017 Report (PDF)

How America Pays for College 2017 Infographic (PDF)

How America Pays for College 2017 Social Media Kit (PDF)

Read the news release

Find scholarships for college

Calculate your college costs

Start your plan for college

Share this information on Twitter

How America Pays for College 2017, by Sallie Mae, the nation's saving, planning, and paying for college company, and Ipsos, the world's third-largest market research company, reports the results of 1,600 telephone interviews conducted by Ipsos in March-April 2017 of 800 parents of undergraduate students and 800 undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 24. Data and years shown reflect academic years (July 1 to June 30).