The percentage of families who eliminated college choices because of cost rose to the highest level (69%) in the five years since the study began and virtually all families exercised cost-savings measures. The most common cost-savings strategies included living at home (51%), adding a roommate (55%), and reducing spending by parents (50%) and students (66%). In 2012, families continued the shift toward lower cost community college, with 29 percent enrolled, compared to 23 percent two years ago. In fact, overall, families paid 5 percent less for college compared to one year ago.
Student loan provider Sallie Mae (where half of my student loan debt currently resides—love you, SM!), just released their newest study on how students and families are paying for college these days, and the different ways they’re trying to keep the costs in control. Not so long ago, I think a lot of us were in the frame of mind that we’d just go to our dream schools without thinking about what that would cost us, because we’d figured we’d just get a great job and pay back that debt after we graduated, so it’s great to see that 69 percent of families in this study are eliminating college choices because of cost. One thing I was more than happy to pay for: Choosing to live on campus (and then off campus in an apartment with roommates), because I think living at home (my folks lived, maybe, an hour from campus) would have completely changed my entire college experience. I was glad that I lived in the dorms because I met a lot of amazing people who I still keep in touch with today, and living in an apartment and paying my own bills prepared me for life-after-college. This is not to say that college students shouldn’t live at home—do it if it makes sense for you, and if your parents don’t drive you absolutely nuts (mine did).