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A national survey from Discover® Student Loans revealed that a majority of parents with college-bound children are worried about having enough money to pay for their child’s education.

According to survey findings, more parents feel financially unprepared to pay for college this year than in previous years with nearly three-quarters (70%) worried about having enough funds. 

63 percent in 2021, 66 percent in 2022, 70 percent in 2023

Contributing factors to the feelings of financial worry

While there are multiple contributing factors to the feelings of financial worry, parents selected multiple key reasons, including:

48 percent inflation strains, 46 percent not saving enough, 43 percent rising tuition costs

Financial positions affect college decisions

Overall, more than one-third (36%) of parents said they are in a worse financial position to help pay for college versus last year and it's impacting their child's choices:

34 percent my child must now look into scholarship and financial aid options, 27 percent my child is now only able to look at schools with in-state tuition, 16 percent my child is now only able to look at schools that a llow a daily commute from home

The value of college

While many parents feel that college is necessary to find a good job, over half (54%) of parents are questioning whether college is still a good investment.

College is necessary to find a good job 73 percent agree, 26 percent disagree, 1 percent don't know College is still a good investment 46 percent agree, 52 percent disagree, 2 percent don't know

Inflation and tuition costs are creating uncertainty

With rising inflation and tuition costs, parents surveyed are nervous about the amount of debt their children will take on compared to their post-college career earnings. 

68 percent of parents are nervous

Families look to scholarships and loans

As college costs rise, fewer parents are able to cover the full cost of college compared to last year. 

Parents who will help pay for all their hild's education is down 12 percent from 2022

More families are turning to other ways to ease the cost of college, like scholarships. In fact, 61% of respondents said they will use scholarships and grants to help pay for their child's education, up 7 points from 2022 and up 14 points from 2021. 

47 percent 2021, 54 percent 2022, 61 percent 2023

In addition to scholarships, more families are considering student loans to cover college costs. 

45 percent of parents surveyed said they will use student loans to pay their children's education
55 percent of those who will use loans plan to use a combination of federal and private student loans
42 percent selected federal student loans only

Discover Student Loans helps families prepare for college

To support families, Discover Student Loans offers a free scholarship search tool. If families need a private student loan, we also have a free student loan calculator to help them estimate how much they need to borrow and what the monthly payment would look like. 


© 2023 Discover Bank, Member FDIC

About the survey

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a Dynata (formerly Research Now/SSI) survey conducted on behalf of Discover Financial Services. The survey was conducted online and fielded by Dynata with a total sample size of 1,000 parents of children ages 16-18 who plan on attending college or trade school. The margin of sampling error was 3 percentage points with a +/-5 percent level of confidence.

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