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How America Pays for College 2016

A snapshot of the 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.

Families pay less out of pocket for college as scholarships and grants cover more of the cost


Average percent of total cost paid from each source

34% scholarships and grants
5% relatives and friends
12% student income and savings
29% parent income and savings
13% student borrowing
7% parent borrowing

98% of students are taking steps to make college more affordable

4 out of 5

attend college in their home state to lower costs


1 out of 3

are attending community college as the first step toward a bachelor's degree



work at least part of the year



live at home


1 out of 3

are attending community college as the first step toward a bachelor's degree



cut down on personal spending



live at home



are working toward earning their degree faster


When choosing a college, cost ranks third


Academic program


Personal choice


Financial considerations

90% of families expect their student to earn at least a bachelor's degree


Here's how the numbers add up

36% expect a bachelor's degree
54% expect a graduate degree
10% expect an associate's degree or certificate

Having a plan pays off

2 out of

families created a plan to pay for college

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

In families who plan

 3.5 X

Parents save 3.5 times more than non-planners


Students borrow 1/3 less than non-planners

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College Ahead Plan for College

How America Pays for College 2016, 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 1,598 telephone interviews conducted by Ipsos in March-April 2016 of 799 parents of undergraduate students and 799 undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 24. Data and years shown reflect academic years (July 1 to June 30).