On average, families spent $26,226 on college in 2018 – 19
of costs were covered by family savings and income
of costs were covered by scholarships and grants
of costs were covered by borrowing
of costs were covered by friends and family
College planning tip
Scholarships are an important resource when paying for college. They provide families with free money they don't need to pay back.
Find scholarships for college
Both parents and students believe that college is worth the investment
- 7 in 10 students and parents say the price of college is a good value—either appropriately priced, a bargain, or worth every penny.
- 79% of parents and 75% of students are willing to stretch themselves financially to pay for college.
- 84% of families believe college will help their student get a higher paying job.
Families are increasingly confident about how they’re paying—and planning—for college
80% feel confident about how they're paying for college
44% have a plan to pay for all years of college
College planning tip
If you're still figuring out how much you need to save for college, a cost calculator can help you understand whether your goals are on target.
Create a customized plan for your family
Nearly 6 in 10 families who borrowed (57%) say that borrowing was always part of how they planned to pay for college
Families use different strategies to help them prepare to pay for college
research college costs and financial aid
budget how much they’ll cover with savings, borrowing, and other resources
have students taking AP classes or dual-enrolling in community college
invest in their student’s talents to increase the chances they'll earn a scholarship
Cost is a top factor when choosing a college
- Families are more likely to consider cost than academic criteria when choosing a college (77% vs 73%).
- Students are more likely than parents to reject a school because of cost (88% vs 70%).
- Students are more likely than their parents to rule out a school after reviewing the financial aid package (67% vs 54%).
Students, on average, apply to four schools and are accepted to about three schools, giving them options for their final decision
Most families decide together how they’ll pay for college
- 51% of families say the parent and student share the responsibility of decision-making.
- 12% of families say the parent is the primary decision-maker.
- 18% say the student is the sole decision-maker.
77% of families complete the FAFSA to get access to more than $150 billion in financial aid
But 1 in 4 families are still skipping this step, missing out on potential aid
of those who didn’t file a FAFSA say they thought they wouldn’t qualify for aid
didn’t file because they didn’t know about it—or missed the deadline
were missing information, didn’t have time, or felt the process was too complicated