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9 in 10 American families agree college is
an investment in the student

Are you familiar with how students and their families value higher education? What about the factors that influence their choice of schools, and the steps they're taking to make college more affordable?

Read the research report (PDF)
View the infographic (PDF)
Read the news release

Most Americans believe they are getting a good value for the amount they're spending on college

66% of Americans believe they are getting a good value for what they're spending, including 20% who feel the student's education is an excellent value, worth every penny.

Read how families appreciate the value of a college education

When researching schools, families consider a variety of factors

The number one financial consideration is the expected financial aid package, cited by more than half of families.

The top academic consideration is the quality of the program in which the student plans to major.

Top personal preferences influencing students are: campus setting, size of the college or number of students, and proximity to home.

Read about choosing a college that’s the right fit

Learn the 10 things college students wish they’d known before enrolling

College planning tip


To help with college finances, a scholarship can give a student “free money” for college.

Search for scholarships

Many families aren't prepared—60% don't have a plan to pay for college





  #1 surprise—total cost of college

15% of families didn’t anticipate different costs of living, program fees, books, activities, travel, and more.

Read about the advantages of planning how to pay for college





  Confusion with terminology

Some students and families are confused by terms like free tuition, work-study, and sticker price.

See how well you understand paying-for-college terminology

85% of families say they always expected the student to attend college regardless of his or her course of study

College planning tip


Our College Planning CalculatorSM can help students develop a plan to pay for college.

Try the College Planning Calculator

Fitting college costs into the family budget

Students are seeking ways to keep college costs within families’ means.

One in five students changed majors to pursue a field of study that is more marketable (21%).

About one-sixth (15%) of students said they took classes online because they were less expensive.

One in four are earning their degree over a shorter period of time to reduce total costs or begin working in their field sooner (24%).

Nearly two-fifths (37%) of students are living at home with parents or other relatives while attending college.

Find out how families are making college more affordable

Additional resources


How America Values College 2018 research report (PDF)

How America Values 2018 infographic (PDF)

News release

Past reports

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How America Values College 2018, 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 1,907 online interviews conducted between April 20, 2018, and May 25, 2018, with 957 parents of 18 to 24-year-old undergraduate students, and 950 18 to 24-year-old undergraduate students.