The number of parents with college-bound teens who see value in a college education has increased from a year ago, according to a yearly survey commissioned by Discover Student Loans. The independent poll found that 87 percent of parents say college is “very important” to their children’s futures, up from 81 percent in 2012. Those parents who say a college education is only “somewhat important” dropped from 14 percent to 11 percent over last year.
Eighty-one percent of parents plan to help pay for their children’s college education, an increase from 74 percent a year ago. But a willingness to pay doesn’t correspond to an ability to pay. Seventy-nine percent of families are very or somewhat worried about having enough money to contribute, compared to 75 percent last year.
“We’re encouraged that parents continue to see the life-long benefits of a college education,” said PK Parekh, vice president for Discover Student Loans. “But it can be overwhelming to figure out how to pay for college. Discover encourages parents and students to plan early and maximize grants, scholarships and other free financial aid. If free money and family savings aren't enough, then families should compare federal and private student loans to see which kinds of loans are best to cover the gap.”
Understanding Federal vs. Private Student Loans
Twenty-nine percent of parents said that most of the money to pay for college will come from student loans, followed by 27 percent mostly from family savings and 11 percent mostly from 529 savings plans, all of which are largely unchanged from last year.
Half of parents said their children plan to use student loans, with 54 percent planning to use a combination of both federal and private student loans, 32 percent just using federal, 4 percent just using private, and 10 percent not sure.