Jul. 23, 2012

3 Out Of 4 U.S. Families Want To Help Their Children Pay For College But Worry They Can’T Come Up With Enough Funds

National Survey Says 74% of Parents Are Willing to Help Pay for College;

75% Worry about Having Enough Money to Help Out;

87% Think Their Children Should Cover at Least Some of the Cost

RIVERWOODS, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jul. 23, 2012-- Seventy-four percent of adults with teens considering college want to help finance their child’s education in some way, but just as many are worried about how they will pay for it, according to a survey commissioned by Discover Student Loans.

In an independent survey of U.S. parents with college-bound teens 16 to 18 years old, 81 percent of parents reported that college was very important to their child’s future. However, 75 percent are very or somewhat worried about being able to offer enough help. Another 17 percent are not very worried about having enough money to pay for college, and 6 percent are not worried at all.

“Parents overwhelmingly agree that a college education is an important investment in their children’s future,” said Carlos Minetti, president of consumer banking and operations at Discover. “We see that families want to help their children receive a college degree and are knowledgeable about the funding options available.”

Parents and Children to Share the Cost of College

Parents were asked how much of their child’s education they can afford and 29 percent reported they can pay up to a quarter, while 15 percent can pay half and 23 percent can pay up to three quarters or all of college costs. One in four families responded saying they can not afford to pay for any of their child’s education.

When it comes to sharing the cost, 39 percent of parents expect their children to take responsibility for all or most of tuition costs, while another 48 percent expect their children to be responsible for some of the cost, and 10 percent do not expect their children to pay anything.

More than half of parents expect to help their children repay student loans: 22 percent said it is very likely they will help, 33 percent were somewhat likely, 28 percent were not very likely, and 13 percent are not likely at all to help pay off loans.

Financing Education with Family Savings

The main source of funds for many families will be savings, but a considerable amount of parents think student loans are an inevitability to cover the remaining cost of college.

When asked to choose from a list of options, 36 percent of parents said most of the money to pay for their children’s educations will come from savings accounts – 24 percent from family savings and 12 percent from 529 savings plans, followed by:

  • Student loans
  • A second job
  • Retirement funds
  • Second mortgage or refinance
  • Some other source
  • Not sure

Most parents feel like they know what funding sources are available, with 42 percent feeling somewhat knowledgeable about their options, 29 percent feeling very knowledgeable, 24 percent not very knowledgeable, and 4 percent not at all knowledgeable.

Financial Aid Offices Trusted Most for Information about Paying for College

The survey found that parents put a significant amount of trust in financial aid officers, many of whom are attending the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators convention in Chicago July 22 to 25.

When asked to choose from a list of the most reliable sources of information on paying for college, 47 percent of parents put their trust in financial aid officers, followed by:

  • Personal financial advisors
  • Guidance counselors in high school
  • Friends and family
  • The Internet
  • Banks and other lenders
  • Some other source
  • Not sure

The national survey of 800 adults who have children 16 to 18 years old that are planning on going to college was conducted July 2 to 8, 2012, by Rasmussen Reports, an independent survey research firm (http://www.rasmussenreports.com). The margin of sampling error was +/-4 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

About Discover

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is a direct banking and payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company operates the Discover card, America's cash rewards pioneer, and offers home loans, private student loans, personal loans, online savings accounts, certificates of deposit and money market accounts through its direct banking business. Its payment businesses consist of Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the nation's leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global payments network with acceptance in more than 185 countries and territories. For more information, visit www.discoverfinancial.com.


National survey of 800 adults with children 16 to 18 years old who have children planning on going to college

Conducted July 2-8, 2012, By Rasmussen Reports

Margin of sampling error: +/- 4 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence

Commissioned by Discover Student Loans


How important is college to your child’s future?

81%   Very important
14% Somewhat important


Not very important

1% Not at all important
1% Not sure

Will you be helping your child pay for his or her college education?

74% Yes
15% No
11% Not sure

How worried are you about having enough money to help pay for your child’s college education?

47% Very worried
28% Somewhat worried
17% Not very worried


Not at all worried

1% Not sure

How much of your child’s education can you afford?

24% None of it
29% Up to 25% of it
15% Up to 50% of it
10% Up to 75% of it
13% All of it
10% Not sure

Where will most of the money come from to pay for your child’s college education?

12% 529 savings plan
24% Family savings
28% Student loans
5% Take second job
3% Second mortgage or refinance
4% Retirement funds
13% Some other source
11% Not sure

How knowledgeable are you about the funding options available for financing your child’s college education?

29% Very knowledgeable
42% Somewhat knowledgeable
24% Not very knowledgeable
4% Not at all knowledgeable
1% Not sure

If your child had to rely on student loans or other types of loans for college, how likely are you to help them pay back the loans?

22% Very likely
33% Somewhat likely
28% Not very likely
13% Not at all likely
4% Not sure

How much responsibility should your child have in paying for their college education?

12% All of it
27% Most of it
48% Some of it
10% None of it
3% Not sure

Which do you consider the most reliable source of information on paying for college?

47% Financial aid offices of colleges
11% Personal financial advisors
7% Guidance counselors in high school
6% Friends and family
6% The Internet
3% Banks and other lenders
8% Some other source
11% Not sure

Source: Discover Financial Services

Discover Financial Services
Rob Weiss, 224-405-6304

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