Discover Student Loans Survey Finds More Parents Expect Their Child to Help Pay for College

July 29, 2019

Parents continue to be worried about not having enough money to help fund a college education

RIVERWOODS, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- A new survey from Discover Student Loans finds that a growing number of parents are expecting their child to help pay for more of their college education. The findings from a survey of parents with college-bound students aged 16–18 shows 38 percent expect their child will pay for more than half of their college education, compared to 31 percent in 2018. This year’s survey shows parents will be contributing less toward their child’s education with only 28 percent of parents saying they will cover the entire cost, which is down from 34 percent in 2018.

The survey also found that almost two-thirds of parents (65 percent) are worried about having enough money to help pay for their child’s college education, up from 55 percent in 2018. Despite their concerns, the majority of parents (70 percent) say they are not limiting their child’s college choice based on price.

Parents appear less willing or able to use savings, student loans, college savings plans or other loans to help pay for their child’s college education. Fewer parents (41 percent) are planning to use savings to cover the cost of their child’s college, compared to 51 percent in 2018. Thirty eight percent of parents plan to use student loans, a decrease from 43 percent last year. More than half (58 percent) are planning to rely on scholarships and grants to help pay for their child’s college education.

“Our survey shows that more parents are now expecting their children to share in the responsibility of paying for their own college education, which reiterates the importance for parents and students to have conversations about paying for college early and often,” said Nicole Straub, vice president for Discover Student Loans. “The good news is that these conversations are already happening. Eighty percent of parents say they have discussed paying for college with their child, and more than one-third of parents said these conversations first started at the beginning of high school.”

Most parents are worried about the impact paying for their child’s college education will have on their financial situation. Seventy-five percent of parents say they are concerned, at least to some extent, how the cost of their child’s college education may affect their own financial situation. In fact, more than one-third of parents (35 percent) expect to give up vacations or entertainment spending and 32 percent feel they may have to retire later because of helping to pay for their child’s college.

“There are a number of options families can consider when trying to pay for college. We encourage families to compare them and choose what best fits their financial situation,” said Straub. “We know the cost can feel overwhelming, so we recently lowered our fixed and variable undergraduate student loan rates to help families as they make their final plans. Students can save even more if they choose interest-only repayment, which will help reduce the cost of their loan.”

For more information about Discover Student Loans, please visit

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; fielded from June 19 – 24, 2019,with a total sample size of 1,501 U.S. parents of college bound students (ages 16 – 18). The margin of sampling error was ±2.53 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 equity loans, checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit through its direct banking business. It operates the Discover Global Network comprised 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 around the world. For more information, visit

Rob Weiss
Discover Financial Services

Source: Discover Financial Services