Americans Give Pricey Colleges the Cold Shoulder

Americans Give Pricey Colleges the Cold Shoulder

A college education is supposedly more valuable than ever—so families are sacrificing everything to make sure their kids can attend their dream schools, right?

Not quite.

Many families are choosing to forego those dream schools in favor of more affordable options. In fact, over two-thirds of students and parents dismiss certain college choices because they're too expensive. That's a big increase from 2009 when, even at the height of a recession, only 56% of families said "no" because of cost.

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According to a study by Sallie Mae, 34% of families surveyed chose two-year programs, cutting the cost of school by nearly half, from an average $21,072 per year at a four-year institution to $11,012 per year at a two-year college. Meanwhile, 69% of families are taking advantage of discounted tuition at in-state schools.

Even beyond choosing schools with lower tuitions, families are finding other ways to make the college experience more affordable. The survey found that the majority of students choose to live at home while attending school—54% in 2014, compared to 43% four years ago. Meanwhile, 41% of those not living at home would bunk with a roommate to save more.

Perhaps as a result of horror stories about student debt, families are also looking for ways to reduce the amount they borrow. In order to pay more out-of-pocket, two-thirds of families said they'd cut back on entertainment spending, and 19% of parents were willing to work more. Nearly half of students would work more to help afford college.

Before you start the college conversation with your student, check out LearnVest's top tips for talking to kids about paying for school—like broaching the topic early and consulting an expert in financial planning.

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