paying for college

How today’s incoming students and their parents pay for college is changing


Large majority of families are taking steps to lighten the burdens of paying for college.

Students and parents shared paying for college responsibilities equally in academic year 2016-17, each contributing about one-third of the expense, and scholarships and grants covered most of the rest, according to a new report.

How America Pays for College 2017,” a national study from Sallie Mae and Ipsos, reveals that the average amount spent paying for college in 2016-17 was about the same as in 2015-16 ($23,757 vs. $23,688).

Scholarships and grants paid 35 percent of college costs–the largest share in the report’s 10-year history. Scholarships were used by nearly half of all families (49 percent), and grants were used by 47 percent. Parents funded the second-largest share through a combination of income and savings, which covered 23 percent of costs, and borrowing, which paid 8 percent.

Student income and savings covered 11 percent; student borrowing paid 19 percent; and contributions from relatives and friends provided 4 percent. Overall, 42 percent of families borrowed to pay for college in 2016-17.

(Next page: How families are working harder to tackle paying for college)

Laura Ascione