Record number of families choose college based on cost

August 2, 2012

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A new national report from Sallie Mae, one of the nation’s top student loan providers, shows more students and families are choosing colleges related to how much they cost. 

In fact, a record 69 percent of American families say they rule out schools that are too expensive. That’s up from 64 percent in 2011, according to the report.

WBEZ talked to college students in downtown Chicago Thursday and found that many agree with the report's premise.

“I would’ve loved to go out of state but it’s way too much money. Even Northern was probably one of the cheapest schools I got into. That’s one of the reasons why I went there,” said Nora Carroll, a former Northern Illinois University student.

“I actually wanted to go to Wisconsin and when I decided that I wanted to go there, we had to talk with my family about how to afford it because it was so much more expensive than South Dakota,” said Andrea Pollard, a University of South Dakota student.

“ I’m under the post 9/11 GI bill so, luckily, I’m not paying for tuition and fees,” said Adam Bowman, a DePaul University senior. “If I didn’t have my benefits, I’m not sure I’d even be at a private university paying $30,000 a year. I’d probably be at a community college, at least knocking out the (prerequisites).”

Other key findings from the Sallie Mae report:

  • Students are footing more of the bill for college—about 30 percent, up from 24 percent four years ago.
  • Parents are covering less of the cost of college—about 37 percent, down from 45 percent four years ago.
  • 13 percent of parents borrowed funds to pay for their child’s post-secondary education.
  • Fewer parents “strongly agree” that college is an investment in their child’s future—77 percent this year, compared with 83 percent in 2011.
  • More than half of all students live at home while going to school, about a 9 percent increase from 2011.
  • Fewer parents say they would send their child to college for the experience—just 19 percent, down from 24 percent last year and 33 percent in 2010.