Parents Are Fed Up With Skyrocketing College Costs, and Who Can Blame Them?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Brian Kearney, an associate public relations specialist at New York City-based Blue Fountain Media, considers himself a fortunate young man.

Kearney graduated recently from Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J., with little debt, and he has the good sense to thank his parents for that, although he played a big part too.

"I'm fortunate enough to have parents who were able to pay for my college education, but in an effort to reduce the amount, I finished my last semester of college at my community college," Kearney says. "I took a few general education classes that I needed in order to graduate at my community college, and transferred the credits to Rowan once I completed them."

That move saved $10,000 for his parents. They caught a rare break.

College spending is really starting to catch up with consumers. As some start emphasizing value over huge student loan burdens in sending their kids to college, many are also growing more impatient — even angry — at the soaring rate of tuition.

Discover study shows that about a quarter of American moms and dads can't afford to pay for any of their kids' college education costs, and the parents willing to help pay anything at all for a child's college education has dropped 6% from 2013 (to 75% from 81%.)

In addition:

  • 48% of parents said they were limiting which college their child attended based on price, an increase from 44% in 2014.
  • 44% of college parents said they were more likely to pay for their child's education if they majored in a field with a higher likelihood of employment, an increase from 33% in 2014.
  • 54% of college parents said their child is planning to take out student loans, up from half in 2013.

"Parents want their children to earn a college degree; however, paying for that education can be difficult," says Andrew Hopkins, vice president of Discover Student Loans.

College savings experts affirm that they see a lot of frustration among families paying for college.

"Parents are furious with college tuition because it is constantly outpacing inflation, and the degrees people are getting are not necessarily preparing them to get a job that will pay off the student loans that they have to take out," says Paul Moyer, owner of SavingFreak.com, a personal finance site offering advice on consumer savings.

There are also some ripple effects from the struggle to pay for a decent college education.

"I think parents are increasingly annoyed because as the price of university increases, the ability to graduate in four years has decreased," says Katie Schellenberg, a professional college enrollment consultant in Los Angeles. "Students have to spend more time and more money and wind up not being fully prepared for the job market."

College-paying parents are increasingly desperate to keep loans under control. "Parents are also engaging friends and family to help to pay for school," says Keith Bernhardt, vice president of college savings at Fidelity Investments. "In our data, many are planning to save a portion of monetary gifts their children may receive throughout the year for birthdays or other holidays – 37% of college parents – and half of parents surveyed report that family and friends already contribute to their child's college savings fund. Grandparents in particular are playing a big role, with 41% contributing."

Taking the temperature of the tuition-paying public these days isn't easy, but recent data show burgeoning impatience among families with the high cost of college, with a decided lack of help from colleges and financial institutions in solving the problem.

With $1 trillion at stake in total student loan debt at stake, that's a gravy train the powers-that-be don't want derailed, no matter how tired mom and dad grow writing big checks again and again.

And again.

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