Students and families seem to be adjusting to the rising cost of college.
Four out of five are attending colleges in their home state and one out of three are attending community colleges – both lower cost options for students, according to the latest Sallie Mae and Ipsos annual survey “How America Pays for College.”
In addition, many students are working throughout their academic year or during breaks (77%), cutting personal spending (62%), living at home during the school year (49%) and accelerating graduation in order to reduce costs (27%), according to the survey.
Among families, 85% reported filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is required for students to receive financial aid from any college, public or private.
Cost-consciousness about college financing is manifesting itself in other ways, too, according to the survey. Sixty-seven percent of families reported they had scratched schools from their list of potential candidates due to costs, and costs were the dominant factor cited by students for changing their original choice of school or transferring to another once they had enrolled (27%).
Cost was also the chief consideration for those students who chose to attend a two-year public college as opposed to a four-year institution.
College costs rose roughly 3% in the 2015-2016 academic year from the previous year, according to the College Board, but families spent the same amount to finance college costs, according to the Sallie Mae Survey.
Filling that gap were scholarships and grants. They accounted for 34% of college financing for the average family in the latest academic year, the highest portion since at least the 2011-2012 academic year. according to the Sallie Mae report.
“Families wrote smaller checks for college this year as they looked less to their wallets and more toward free money to make college happen,” said Raymond Quinlan, chairman and CEO of Sallie Mae, which is the largest provider of private student loans. “Scholarships and grants have become an increasingly important part of the pay-for-college mix.”