How Families Pay for College

More than 80% of students are stressed about the cost of college. And for a good reason: most aren’t prepared for all the expenses. Paying for college is one of the most stressful responsibilities for students and parents in the U.S. In the 2019-2020 school year, the average private school tuition was over $36,801, while public in-state was more than $10,116.

So how are families paying for college in 2020? With options like scholarships, work-study, grants, federal and private loans, we wanted to know just how students fund their higher education. A College Ave Student Loans survey of 1,019 college students conducted by Barnes & Noble College InsightsSM polled students about their experience. In addition to their loans and scholarships, we asked students about support from their parents and plans for graduate school. Check out the infographic below to see how families in 2020 are paying for college.

infographic Part 1 - how families are paying for college

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Key Findings

While a whopping 90% of students who use merit aid received merit aid during their first year at college, most wish they’d researched more scholarships. Since many students don’t fully understand all the costs and fees associated with college, choosing the right school becomes more important than ever. It turns out that 3 in 10 of the students we surveyed paid at least $10,000 more than they expected to, no doubt adding to families’ stress.

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Students researching schools can thwart unexpected costs by exploring the average tuition, loans, and available scholarships and grants at their favorite schools. Don’t be part of the 80% who wish they’d done more research. Use resources like College Ave and The College Board to find current rates and pricing guides your choice schools offer. You should also ask advisors and the financial aid office at prospective colleges for guidance on the best aid packages and how to find support where you need it.

infographic Part 2 - Students' Mindsets

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In the meantime, here is a useful College Planning Timeline you can use as a checklist before graduating high school. Thankfully, there is plenty of information to help you make the right decision and prepare you and your family for the future.

The College Ave Student Loans survey was conducted by Barnes & Noble College InsightsSM. The national online survey had 1,019 undergraduate students respondents who attend one of the 777 campuses served by Barnes & Noble College and was fielded in April 2019.


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