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How America Pays for College 2015

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

Families spend more on college

Total spent on college:

$20,882 in 2014 vs. $24,164 in 2015


(the highest amount since 2010)


Amount from family income and savings:

$8,854 in 2014 vs. $10,365 in 2015


(the highest amount since 2010)

Fewer parents are extremely worried that:
(2014 vs. 2015)

Their student won't find a job after graduation


27% vs 13%


Income will decline due to job loss


23% vs 17%


Student loan rates will increase


27% vs 19%

Parent out-of-pocket spending exceeds scholarships and grants


Average percent of total cost paid from each source:

32% parent income and savings
11% student income and savings
16% student borrowing
6% parent borrowing
30% scholarships and grants
5% relatives and friends

Parent income and savings are the #1 source of funding, surpassing scholarships and grants for the first time since 2010

88% of families are willing to stretch financially to afford college

6 out of 10

families did not borrow money


Families who borrow are making responsible decisions


of families have filed a FAFSA
vs. 78% of non-borrowers



have claimed education tax credits
vs. 27% of non-borrowers



of students are working while attending school
vs. 68% of non-borrowers



of students are reducing personal spending
vs. 55% of non-borrowers



of families are making loan payments in school to cut costs


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College Ahead

Dollar amounts reported by parents and students are gross costs (before any financial aid is applied) and include their estimates of direct and indirect costs of attending college, including cost-of-living and other expenses.

Sallie Mae, the nation’s saving, planning, and paying for college company, prepared How America Pays for College 2015 in conjunction with Ipsos, the world’s third-largest market research company. This study reports the results of 1,600 telephone interviews Ipsos conducted in April 2015 of 800 parents of undergraduate students and of 800 undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 24. Data and years shown reflect academic years (July 1 to June 30).