Magazine article University Business

Educating Parents about College Costs

Magazine article University Business

Educating Parents about College Costs

Article excerpt

PARENTS RELY ON COLLEGES FOR INFORMATION on the costs of education--with basic questions needing answers most, according to results of the 2007 Survey of Parents of College-Bound Freshmen, released by Sallie Mae in January 2008. Of the 400 parents surveyed in September 2007, more than one-third saw the college financial aid office as the best source of in formation on costs.

When asked what they sought most from this office, "an honest assessment of total costs over four years of college" came out on top, with a 39 percent response. And 32 percent sought "basic information about federal loans, private loans, and payment plans." "This points to the need for increased dissemination of the most basic kinds of info," says Sallie Mae spokesperson Beth Guerard.

In communications with families, administrators cannot assume that an understanding of the importance of college translates to being prepared financially. While 82 percent of respondents said a college education is worth the cost, fewer than half said college is affordable. Fewer than one-quarter of families began initial discussions about college payment before or while their child was in elementary school.

Some colleges have acted on the perception of unaffordability with online college cost calculators. Southwestern University (Texas) has a homepage link to its "affordability calculator," which families can use to see that a private institution, specifically Southwestern, can be affordable. From December 2006 to January 2007, the calculator page was viewed 9,579 times, officials report. …

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