Survey: Americans Give Higher Priority to Retirement Savings than to College Savings

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More adult Americans give higher priority to saving for retirement than to saving for a child’s college education, new research reveals.

Country Financial, Bloomington, Ill., published this finding in a summary of results from a national telephone and online survey of 3,000 Americans. The data was compiled by Rasmussen Reports LLC, an independent research firm.

When asked to prioritize savings objectives, nearly half (45%) of the respondents polled by Rasmussen gave greater priority to saving for retirement than to saving for a child’s college education (38%). The result, the report indicates, can be attributed in part to a steady decline in the number of Americans who value a college education.

Just 57% of Americans in 2012 believe that a college education is still a good investment, the report finds. In 2011 and 2010, 58% and 64% of Americans, respectively, said that a college education is a still a good investment. The survey reveals still higher percentages in 2009 (79%) and 2008 (81%).

Forty two percent of the survey respondents say that $20,000 or greater is too much student loan debt. This is 9% more than the 31% who provided the same answer in 2011.

By comparison, half of Americans say that less than $20,000 in student loan debt is too much. This represents a 9% decline compared to the 61% who answered similarly in 2011.

The survey attributes the greater percentage of Americans this year versus last who are prepared to accept higher loan amounts to the 62% of respondents who “prioritized the quality of the education over the cost when evaluating colleges.”

The survey further reveals that 80% of Americans say that parents should be responsible for paying at least a part of their child’s college education. A majority (57%) say that half or less of their child’s college costs will be funded by student loans.

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