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The Survey Of 800 Adults With Children 16 To 18 Years Old Who Are Planning On Going To College Was Commissioned By Discover Student Loans. (Graphic: Business Wire)

Stocks in this article: DFS

A national survey of parents with college-bound teens reveals that while 81 percent of parents believe college is very important to their child’s future, 70 percent say that earning potential is more or about as important than choosing a major. Another 21 percent of parents did not think income potential was more important than a major.

The survey of 800 adults with children 16 to 18 years old who are planning on going to college was commissioned by Discover Student Loans, the third largest originator of student loans in the country.

“There is no question that graduates with a college degree have more job opportunities and earning potential than those who did not receive a higher education,” said Carlos Minetti, president of consumer banking and operations at Discover. “However, as the cost of attending college continues to rise, parents are clearly weighing what college majors are worth in the workforce.”

When choosing a college, 86 percent of parents said the cost was very important or somewhat important in the choice, while 7 percent said cost was not very important and 5 percent said not at all important.

There isn’t much college sticker-shock for parents in the survey. Just under half, 48 percent, of parents feel very knowledgeable about the entire cost of an education beyond tuition, and another 39 percent feel somewhat knowledgeable. Only 11 percent felt not very knowledgeable and 2 percent said they were not at all knowledgeable about the total cost of putting a child through college.

The survey was conducted July 2 to 8, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports, an independent survey research firm ( The margin of sampling error was +/-4 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

About Discover

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is a direct banking and payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company operates the Discover card, America's cash rewards pioneer, and offers home loans, private student loans, personal loans, online savings accounts, certificates of deposit and money market accounts through its direct banking business. Its payment businesses consist of Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the nation's leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global payments network with acceptance in more than 185 countries and territories. For more information, visit


Survey Results

National survey of 800 adults with children 16 to 18 years old
who are planning on going to college
Conducted July 2 to 8, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports
Margin of sampling error: +/- 4 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence
Commissioned by Discover Student Loans

A. How important is college to your child’s future?

      81%     Very important
14% Somewhat important
3% Not very important
1% Not at all important
1% Not sure

B. When choosing a college for your child how important is the cost?

      49%     Very important
37% Somewhat important
7% Not very important
5% Not at all important
3% Not sure

C. Beyond tuition, how knowledgeable do you feel about the entire cost of a college education these days?

      48%     Very knowledgeable
39% Somewhat knowledgeable
11% Not very knowledgeable
2% Not at all knowledgeable
1% Not sure

D. Is earning potential after graduation more or less important to your child’s education than his or her major?

      38%     More important
32% About as important
21% Less important
10% Not sure

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