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Parents Pull Back On Help Financing Their Children’s College Educations

By Kirsten Gibson, Guest Contributor  

"Parents Pull Back On Help Financing Their Children’s College Educations"

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Parents are providing less money to pay for their kids’ college education in the slowed economy. Their contributions are down from $8,752 for the 2009-2010 academic year to just $5,727 in the current one, as detailed by the Wall Street Journal from a report on college funding by Sallie Mae. The report did not include parents’ borrowing, but that has also declined, according to the WSJ.

Instead, students have to make up the loss of parental support by taking out more student loans or staying at home to reduce costs. Fifty-seven percent of families reported a student living at home or with a relative, up from 43 percent in 2010, according to the article. And while low-income households have students living at home in larger numbers, 48 percent of families with incomes over $100,000 have a student staying at home, a rate that has doubled since 2009-2010.

Students are caught in a catch-22. Taking out massive amounts in loans burdens students later in life, yet without increased support from parents, they have to rely more heavily on loans to pay for college. In fact, a recent report said stable savings accounts that parents and the government contribute to can increase a student’s likelihood of graduating, especially for low-income students.

The costs of college have become a nation-wide problem, with over $1 trillion of student debt contributing to the sluggish economic recovery. The U.S.’s system of paying for college is making a degree an increasingly risky investment. Yet Congress struggles to resolve its battle to fix the student loan problem.

Kirsten Gibson is an intern for ThinkProgress.

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