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By Beth Pinsker
NEW YORK, July 31 American families borrowed
less to pay for sending their children to college in 2013 than
in the previous two years, according to a report from student
lender Sallie Mae.
Families borrowed only 22 percent of the cost of college,
down from 27 percent in the prior two years, according to Sallie
Mae's 2013 How America Pays for College report, released
The average amount U.S. families spent for college last year
was stable for the third year at $20,882, after reaching a peak
of $24,097 in 2010. That number was still up significantly from
2007, when college spending hit $17,200.
Also, one-fifth of families paid for college costs out of
their own pockets in 2013, using savings or income, while 66
percent tapped scholarships or grants.
Families are making smarter choices about where their
children go to school and are taking other fiscal measures such
as maximizing tax credits or accelerating studies to cut costs,
said Sarah Ducich, Sallie Mae's senior vice president for public
policy. In addition, more students are living at home.
"Virtually every family says they are taking some
cost-saving measure," Ducich said.
Students who are the first in their families to go to
college are among the most price-sensitive. They spent 18
percent less on educational costs than those whose parents went
Sallie Mae's study found that 73 percent of first-generation
students eliminated choices based on cost and 76 percent chose
to attend a school close to home. They also had a higher
propensity to go to a two-year public institution first, which
significantly lowered their costs, since the average annual
tuition is $3,264 at a community college, versus $12,460 for a
four-year public school, according to the College Board.
Next year, Ducich said, the study will look at whether
students are eventually attaining their stated goal of a
four-year bachelor's degree, which is almost universally valued.
Overall admissions to community colleges declined about 3
percent last year after spiking during the recession as adults
sought job retraining, said Kent Phillippe, associate vice
president, research and student success, of the American
Association of Community Colleges.
But two-year public schools still have a big influx of
students coming directly from high schools, particularly in
rural areas where it might be their only option close to home,
Sallie Mae surveyed 800 parents and 800 undergraduate
students aged 18 to 24 in April and May.
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Editing by Lauren Young and Dan Grebler)