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Many Families Face Unexpected College Expenses, Survey Finds


THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION.  JULY 23, 2013.  College often brings extra expenses families did not expect. That’s one finding from the lender Sallie Mae’s annual survey of traditional-age undergraduates and their parents, released on Tuesday.

Forty percent of families said they had run into expenses they did not anticipate, such as books, supplies, and equipment, according to “How America Pays for College,” a report based on the survey. Only half of families indicated that they had a financial-backup plan for paying for college in the event of a job loss or illness.

At the same time, the survey found smaller percentages of parents expressed concern about economic circumstances, such as losing a job or seeing the value of their savings decrease, than at the height of the recession.

The report uses survey responses from parents and students to paint a picture of how the “typical family” pays for a year of college. Since 2010 families have depended more heavily on grants and scholarships, and less on parents’ savings and income, according to the report.

The report is based on weighted results from a survey, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, of two samples, 800 18-to-24-year-old undergraduates and 802 parents of such students, reached by telephone in April and May.