Study: More Students Paying Their Own Way Through College

By: David Norris Email
By: David Norris Email

COLLEGE STATION, Texas As college tuition continues to rise, a new study suggests more students are on their own when it comes to footing the bill.

The 2013 study Sallie Mae study, "How America Pays for College" suggests parents spending has decreased by 35 percent since 2010. The study cites the recession and slow economic recovery as the reasons.

This after news from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that student loan debt has now risen to the largest form of consumer debt in the nation, outside of mortgages.

Texas A&M student Christa Williams said she knew from the beginning that her parents wouldn't be paying her way through college.

"They can't afford college," Williams said. "College is really expensive, and I'm not rich. So scholarships and loans are how I make it."

She said paying the bills while studying full time is a simple fact of life for her that she's determined not to let get in the way.

"College is tough, period," said Williams. "So it's just another thing I have to do to make sure I make it."

Amanda Hammond is a sophomore at A&M. She said her parents do pay for some of her tuition, but they expect her to chip in.

"Just so I have some responsibility and some ownership in it," said Hammond. "That way, it's not just a free ride. Start learning to pay my own way."

Both Williams and Hammond spent part of their Thursday looking for work at the university's first job fair. And they weren't alone. Hundreds of students filled room 110 in the Koldus building. About 40 employers were there, handing out applications and recruiting new employees.

Nora Cargo is the Associate Director of Scholarships and Financial Aid for A&M. She said everyone was surprised with the turnout.

"We've had an online job database since 1998," Cargo said. "But this is our first attempt at an actual job fair."

The Sallie Mae study suggests students across the nation are looking at price to determine their college of choice. Students are taking extra hours at work and, when possible, they're opting to live at home. They're also more likely to file for education tax credits.

Experts suggest parents talk to their children about money before the head off to school.

"They do need to create a plan," said Jodi Kaus, Director of Financial Counseling at Kansas State University. "I think the study highlighted that families may not be sitting down and doing what I call a comprehensive college financial plan process."

The study also showed that credit cards are often a last resort for college funding, and students are using them more responsibly.


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