Survey Says Parents Are More Worried about Paying for College

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Mark Kantrowitz

By Mark Kantrowitz

June 17, 2020

A national survey by Discover Student Loans reports that parents are more worried about paying for their children’s college education than ever before.

More than two-thirds of parents of college-bound children say that they are somewhat or very worried about having enough money to pay for their child’s college education, up from before the pandemic.

Nevertheless, two-thirds of parents still believe that college is a good investment in their children’s futures. 

More than half of parents say that their children’s education plans have changed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The changes include attending a college that is closer to home (7%), delaying college enrollment (6%), attending an online college (6%), going to a less expensive college (6%) and joining the military (2%). Only 1% have said that they will not attend college as a result of COVID-19.

Parents are concerned that their child is not receiving enough scholarships and financial aid, up 14% and 9% as compared with early March. More students are applying for scholarships and financial aid. More than a third of the parents say that they will file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), even though they didn’t plan on doing so initially.

Parents should consider appealing for more financial aid if they’ve experienced job loss, furloughs or reduced income. According to the survey, almost half of parents say that they’ve lost income and almost a third have lost savings because of the pandemic. One in seven parents (15%) have lost their job or were furloughed because of the pandemic. Only a quarter of parents have appealed for more financial aid, however. 

Two-fifths of the parents say that they are worried about paying for their children’s college education because they did not start saving early enough. More than half of parents say that they plan on using their savings to pay for college, up 7% from before the pandemic.

Parents say that they are talking more candidly with their children about college affordability than before the start of the pandemic. 

The survey was conducted by Dynata on behalf of Discover in early May 2020. A total of 1,500 parents of college-bound students age 16-18 were surveyed, with a margin of error of +/- 2.53% at the 95% confidence level. A similar survey was conducted in early March. 

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