Survey Says

on September 16, 2016

Free Public College Tuition

A survey found that the public supports free public college tuition, with 62% in favor. The support correlates with the age of the survey respondents, with 73% of people under age 50 supporting free public college tuition, compared with 51% of people age 50 and older. More than a quarter (26%) of people opposed to free public college tuition would allow it to families earning $50,000 or less. Support for free public college tuition divided along political lines, with 81% of Democrats and 67% of Independents supporting the idea, compared with only 33% of Republicans. The support also divided along racial lines, with 84% of Black respondents and 90% of Hispanic respondents in favor, compared with 51% of White respondents. Two-fifths (40%) of respondents were opposed to forgiving student loan debt after 10 years, outnumbering the 35% who were in favor. (The survey also reported that 66% of respondents age 18-29 use a cell phone as their only telephone, compared with 21% of respondents age 65 and older.)

Financial Aid Notifications

According to a survey by Cegment, 77% of colleges are planning to release financial aid award letters and notifications earlier this year. Typically, financial aid award letters are mailed in late March or early April. About 90% of high school seniors and their parents say that they are looking forward to receiving net price information earlier, since it will give them more time to make their college decisions. Four-fifths (80%) of college enrollment staff surveyed said that colleges that do not provide earlier financial aid information will be at a competitive disadvantage in enrolling high school seniors.

Parents Student Loan/Credit Card Correlation

A survey by T. Rowe Price reported that parents with student loans are more likely to carry a balance on their credit cards than parents without student loans. Two-thirds (67%) of parents with their own student loans carried a balance on their credit cards, compared with slightly more than half (54%) of parents who don’t have student loans. They were also more likely to worry about paying for their child’s college education (49% vs. 40%) and to have payday loans (19% vs. 7%). Almost two-thirds (63%) of parents feel guilty that they won’t be able to contribute more to their children’s college education. About three-quarters (76%) of parents said that they are willing to delay their retirement to pay for their children’s college education. About a fifth (19%) of parents said that they’d be willing to borrow $100,000 or more to pay for their children’s college education and 14% said that they’d let their children take out $100,000 or more in student loan debt. Less than half of parents (38% of those with 529 college savings plans and 49% using other accounts) have taken money out of college savings plan accounts to pay for expenses other than college, with 13% using the money to pay for a vacation, 13% to pay taxes, 12% to pay for healthcare, 12% to pay for home repair or renovation and 12% to pay off debt.

Credit Card Tuition Payments surveyed the 300 largest U.S. colleges (100 public 4-year colleges, 100 private 4-year colleges and 100 community colleges), finding that 85% accept credit cards for tuition payments. Of these, 57% charge a convenience fee for credit card payments, passing on the transaction fees to the families. The average convenience fee was 2.62%, with 2.75% the most common fee. Credit cards are more common at community colleges than 4-year colleges (97% vs. 79%), but convenience fees are much less common (8% vs. 87%). Using a rewards card to pay for college tuition is financially worthwhile only if the college does not charge a convenience fee, since the fees usually exceed the value of the rewards.

Student Debt and Dating


According to an survey, 75% said that they would feel compelled to help a spouse repay his or her student loans. About 1 in 8 respondents (12%) said that high levels of student loan debt would be a more serious issue than divorce, children from a previous marriage or a criminal past. 

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