How America Pays for College 2023

Sallie Mae's national study of college students and parents

Conducted by Ipsos

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Collage cost

College spending is on the rise

Families reported spending an average of $28,026 on college in the academic year 2022-23, an 11% increase from $25,313 in 2021-22.


Just 28% of families know when the FAFSA® becomes available

The Department of Education announced the new 2024-25 FAFSA® will be released in December 2023, two months after the usual release date of October 1.

Completed the FAFSA for the academic year 2022-23.

Families filing the FAFSA by academic year

Reasons for not
completing the FAFSA®

29 percent

of families that did not submit the FAFSA® believe their income is too high

had problems with the application or found it too complicated

didn't have the information required for the application

missed the deadline

did not know about the FAFSA®


61% of families used scholarships

But almost half (45%) still believe scholarships are only for students with exceptional grades or abilities.

Average increase in reported scholarship amount.

Scholarship Misconceptions

Paying for college tip

One in five families (18%) are unaware of scholarships. Discover 5 tips for getting scholarships for college with Sallie Mae's scholarship guide.

Father and son playing basketball 

Repayment expectations

Few families discuss student loan repayment

Just 44% of students and parents discussed who would be responsible for paying back the loans borrowed by the student.

Number of families expect the student to be responsible or at least partially responsible for paying back student laons 

78% of families say they eliminated a school from consideration based on cost.

Dog getting a checkup at the vet 

Planning for College

Slightly more than half of college families (53%) report having developed a plan for how to pay for all years of college before the student enrolled.

Check out the many resources and tools Sallie Mae offers to help you plan for college.

Additional resources

Join the conversation with #HowAmericaPays

How America Pays for College 2023 reports the results of online interviews Ipsos conducted in English between March 31, 2023 and May 8, 2023, with 1,002 parents of undergraduate students and 1,197 undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 24, including HBCU students. Data and years shown reflect the academic year July 1, 2022 – June 20,2023.

FAFSA® is a registered service mark of U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid