Most parents feel that a college education is very important to their children’s future, but nearly half are worried about how they will afford it. According to the Discover Student Loans annual survey, the vast majority of parents (88%) place a high value on a college education, but paying for it is another matter.
Respondents have consistently emphasized the importance of college. The percentage of people who said that college is very important was 81% in 2012, 87% in 2013, and 85% is 2014. They have also been willing to help pay their child’s college tuition at a fairly consistent rate: in 2012, 74% said they would help, in 2013 81% were planning to pay, and this year 77% said they’d pitch in.
How will we pay?
However, an equally consistent majority is concerned that they won’t have enough funds to help out with tuition. The percentage of parents who are very worried about paying for college was similar to previous years, with 44% indicating they were stressed about it. Only a quarter of parents in this year’s survey were not very worried or not at all worried about affording college tuition.
When asked how much of their child’s education they felt they could pay, 21% said none, while 30% said up to 25%. Only 19% anticipated being able to pay up to half. And even fewer (11%) said they could afford all of it.
Kids should chip in
The percentage of folks who want their children to pay for their own college costs has increased–though it is still well under half. This year, 15% of respondents said kids should pay the whole tuition bill themselves. Last year that number was only 13%. Nearly a third of parents this year feel that their child should pay for most of their own tuition, compared to 29% in 2013.
Still parents worry that kids paying for their own college, or taking on student loan debt, will place a burden on them. When asked if they thought student loan debt might impact their offspring’s ability to purchase a car, a house, or other high-ticket item after they graduate, 85% of parents said they were very or somewhat worried. Only 3% reported being not at all worried.
The survey was conducted in May 2014. Discover asked 1,000 people with children ages 16 to 18 about their attitudes toward college and money. Survey respondents were people whose kids were already planning to attend college.