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Discover Student Loans Annual Survey: Parents Continue To See Value In A College Education, But Fewer Willing To Help Pay

June 09, 2015

Survey Shows More Parents Looking for Children to Financially Contribute; Parents More Likely to Fund Based on Major

RIVERWOODS, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jun. 9, 2015-- The fourth annual survey from Discover Student Loans reveals that the vast majority of parents continue to see the importance of their child obtaining a college education, yet fewer are planning to help pay for it compared to just three years ago – down from 81 percent in 2013 to 75 percent in 2015.

“Parents want their children to earn a college degree; however, paying for that education can be difficult. Nearly a quarter of parents surveyed said they cannot afford to help pay for any of their child’s college education,” said Andrew Hopkins, vice president of Discover Student Loans. “There are many resources and tools available to help guide financial decisions and to ensure responsible borrowing. It’s critical that students are made aware of and maximize scholarships, grants and other free financial aid. Student loans can help bridge the gap between the cost of education and free financial aid.”

When asked how much responsibility their child should have in paying for college, nearly half of parents, 46 percent, said their children should fund at least some of the cost, while 45 percent of parents said they expect their child to pay for most or all of their education.

To cover college expenses, more parents anticipate that their child will use student loans compared to three years ago. This year, 54 percent of parents said their child is planning to take out student loans, as compared to 50 percent in 2013.

Parents are Becoming More Price Conscious

The price of college appears to be affecting the decision making process when choosing schools. Forty-eight percent of parents said they were limiting which college their child attended based on price, an increase from 44 percent in 2014.

Parents also are considering additional ways to further reduce college costs. They ranked attending a public versus private university or a community college as the most effective options to keep expenses in check.

“Parents are starting to take note of the increasing cost of a college education and thinking of ways to reduce the overall cost of attendance,” said Hopkins. “Not only is it important to look at the sticker price for a school, but families also should consider books, meals and transportation as additional essentials when determining the bottom line.”

Parents Want College Majors to Lead to Jobs

Parents increasingly are looking at the likelihood of finding employment and future earning potential when thinking about their child’s choice of major. In fact, 44 percent said they were more likely to fund their child’s education if they majored in a field that has a higher likelihood of employment, an increase from 33 percent in 2014.

When asked whether earning potential or choice of major is more or less important to their child’s education, 47 percent of parents in 2015 said earning potential was more important as compared to 40 percent in 2014. Only 19 percent said that earning potential was less important than the choice of a college major, a decrease from 21 percent in 2012. *****

While parents consider how college majors will impact employment and earning potential, they also continue to worry about how debt from student loans may impact their child’s buying power post-graduation.

To further explore the costs of college and understand why a college degree is worth the investment, visit https://www.discover.com/student-loans/college-planning/degree-investment.html.

For more information about Discover Student Loans, please visit https://www.discover.com/student-loans/.

About the Survey

The Discover national survey of 1,000 adults who have children 16 to 18 years old who are planning to attend college was conducted April 8-12, 2015, by Rasmussen Reports, an independent survey research firm (http://www.rasmussenreports.com). The margin of sampling error was +/-3 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 issues the Discover card, America's cash rewards pioneer, and offers private student loans, personal loans, home loans, checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit and money market accounts through its direct banking business. It operates the 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.discover.com/company.

 

National survey of 1000 adults with children 16 to 18 years old who have children planning on going to college

 
Conducted April 8-12, 2015 By Rasmussen Reports
Margin of sampling error: +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence
Commissioned by Discover Student Loans
 
2015     2014     2013     2012     How important is college to your child’s future?
81% 85% 87% 81% Very important
14% 11% 11% 14% Somewhat important
3% 3% 1% 3% Not very important
0% 1% 0% 1% Not at all important
0% 0% 0% 1% Not sure
               
2015 2014 2013 2012 Beyond tuition, how knowledgeable do you feel about the entire cost of a college education?
46% 48% 49% 48% Very knowledgeable
39% 42% 39% 39% Somewhat knowledgeable
12% 8% 9% 11% Not very knowledgeable
3% 2% 3% 2% Not at all knowledgeable
1% 0% 0% 1% Not sure
               
2015 2014 2013 2012 Will you be helping your child pay for his/her college education?
75% 77% 81% 74% Yes
16% 16% 12% 15% No
9% 7% 8% 11% Not sure
               
2015

2014

2013 2012 How worried are you about having enough money to help pay for your child’s college education?
45% 44% 47% 47% Very worried
33% 30% 32% 28% Somewhat worried
15% 18% 15% 17% Not very worried
6% 7% 6% 6% Not at all worried
1% 1% 0% 1% Not sure
               
2015 2014 2013 2012 How much of your child’s education can you afford?
24% 21% 21% 24% None of it
31% 30% 29% 29% Up to 25%
18% 19% 18% 15% Up to 50%
8% 11% 12% 10% Up to 75%
9% 11% 11% 13% All of it
10% 8% 9% 10% Not sure
               
2015 2014 2013 2012 Where will most of the money come from to pay for your child’s college education?
12% 11% 11% 12% 529 savings plan
25% 29% 27% 24% Family savings
29% 29% 29% 28% Student loans
5% 5% 6% 5% A second job
3% 2% 3% 3% 2nd mortgage or refinance
3% 6% 4% 4% Retirement funds
13% 10% 12% 13% Some other source
9% 7% 10% 11% Not sure
                         
2015

2014

2013 How knowledgeable are you on the difference between federal and private loans? *
29% 30% 29% Very knowledgeable
37% 40% 39% Somewhat knowledgeable
26% 22% 24% Not very knowledgeable
7% 7% 6% Not at all knowledgeable
2% 1% 1% Not sure
                         
2015 2014 2013 Is your child planning to use student loans to pay for their college education? *
54% 52% 50% Yes
26% 28% 32% No
20% 20% 18% Not sure
                   
2015 2014*** 2013 Does your child plan to use federal student loans, private loans or a combination of both? *
38% 38% 32% Federal loans
5% 3% 4% Private loans
47% 48% 54% A combination of both
9% 11% 10% Not sure
               
2015 2014 2013 2012

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

7% 7% 6% 7% Guidance counselors in high school
43% 44% 47% 47% Financial aid offices of colleges
4% 3% 3% 3% Banks and other lenders
14% 14% 13% 11% Personal financial advisors
7% 9% 8% 6% Friends and family
6% 6% 7% 6% The Internet
9% 8% 8% 8% Some other source
11% 9% 9% 11% Not sure
               
2015 2014 2013 2012 How much responsibility should your child have in paying for their education?
15% 15% 13% 12% All of it
30% 32% 29% 27% Most of it
46% 43% 48% 48% Some of it
7% 8% 7% 10% None of it
3% 2% 3% 3% Not sure
                         
2015 2014 2013 If you are taking out loans in your child’s name, does your child understand how much debt they will graduate with? *
39% 42% 40% Fully understands
32% 32% 32% Somewhat understands
14% 14% 15% Doesn’t understand
15% 12% 13% Not sure
               
2015 2014 2013 2012 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?
25% 24% 25% 22% Very likely
33% 28% 33% 33% Somewhat likely
28% 30% 25% 28% Not very likely
11% 12% 13% 13% Not at all likely
4% 6% 4% 4% Not sure
               
2015 2014 2013 2012 Is earning potential after graduation more or less important to your child’s education than his or her major? *****
47% 40% 42% 38% More important
19% 21% 22% 21% Less important
27% 30% 31% 32% About as important
7% 9% 5% 10% Not sure
                         
2015 2014 2013 Are you limiting your child’s college choice based on price?*
48% 44% 49% Yes
41% 48% 40% No
11% 9% 11% Not sure
                         
2015 2014 2013 Are you more likely to help fund your child’s education if they major in a field that has a higher likelihood of them landing a job? *
44% 33% 42% Yes
43% 53% 44% No
13% 14% 14% Not sure
                             
2015 2014*** How worried are you that student loan debt may affect your child’s ability to buy a house, car or some other large purchase after graduation? **
58% 55% Very worried
25% 30% Somewhat worried
14% 12% Not very worried
3% 3% Not at all worried
0% 0% Not sure
                                     

2015****

When thinking about the options to reduce the cost of college for your child, which of the following do you think is most effective? ****
29% Attending a community college
33% Attending a public university versus a private university
1% Deferring college for a year
12% Having your child live at home while attending college
14% Working part-time while attending college
11% Not sure
 
* not asked in 2012
** not asked in 2012 or 2013
*** answered by 544 respondents who said their child was planning to use student loans to pay for their college education
**** not asked in 2012, 2013 or 2014
***** error due to transposed numbers; has been updated to be accurate

Source: Discover Financial Services

Discover Financial Services
Rob Weiss
224-405-6304
robertweiss@discover.com