50 must-know statistics about college planning

Note: This article is part of Morningstar’s October 2014 College Planning Report Card special report (www.morningstar.com/goto/2014top529).

Planning ahead for college means taking into account lots of different numbers–how much tuition will cost, how much you’ll need to have saved up, and where the rest of the money will come from, to name a few. At times, it can seem overwhelming, especially given the high cost of college today and the many different paths for getting a degree. (For a few ideas you may not have thought of, read this article.)

One of the best things students and their families can do to prepare to meet this financial challenge is to look at the current state of college planning. One of the best ways to do this is through statistics. Below is a variety of different numbers related to college planning–from the cost of attendance to how families are saving, the role of financial aid, and more. Some may surprise you; some may depress you. But the most important thing is for you to have a better, more well-rounded understanding of how people are paying for college these days so that you can formulate a plan for when it’s your turn. All numbers are the most current available at the time this article was published, and links to the original sources are provided.

The Cost of College
$18,391: Average published cost of tuition, fees, and room and board at public four-year colleges (in-state) in 2013-14

$31,701:Average published cost of tuition, fees, and room and board at public four-year colleges (out of state) in 2013-14

$40,917: Average published cost of tuition, fees, and room and board at private nonprofit four-year colleges in 2013-14

$1,207: Average amount students spent on books and supplies that year (as reported by public colleges)

$1,123: Average amount students spent on transportation (as reported by public colleges)

$2,105: Average amount students spent on “other expenses” (as reported by public colleges)

$2,993: Average increase in tuition and fees at public four-year colleges (in-state) from 2003-04 to 2013-14 in inflation-adjusted (2013) dollars

$6,023: Average increase in tuition and fees at private four-year colleges over that time period, in inflation-adjusted (2013) dollars

38%: Percentage increase from 2000-01 to 2010-11 in the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded

63%: Percentage increase from 2000-01 to 2010-11 in the number of associate’s degrees awarded

85%: Percentage of four-year colleges accepting at least half of all applicants in fall 2011

2%: Percentage of four-year colleges accepting fewer than 25% of all applicants in fall 2011

59%: Percentage of college students enrolling at four-year colleges in 2005 who had graduated by fall 2011

How Families Are Paying
$21,178: Average college costs paid per student for the 2012-13 academic year

$28,776: Average college costs paid for social science majors, the highest among any area of study

$14,823: Average student/family share of costs in 2012-13 after grants and scholarships are factored in

27%: Average percentage of college costs covered by parental income and savings during the 2012-13 academic year

30%: Average percentage of college costs covered by grants and scholarships that year

31%: Percentage of students who took out loans that year

How Families Are Saving
64%: Percentage of their children’s college costs parents say they plan to pay (on average)

28%: Percentage of that goal they are on track to cover (on average)

51%: Percentage of families with children under age 18 who are saving for college in 2014

62%: Percentage of families with children under age 18 saving for college in 2009

73%: Percentage of families with incomes of $100,000 and above who are saving for college

34%: Percentage of families with incomes below $35,000 who are saving for college

$15,346: Average amount saved for college for families with children under age 18

$21,416: Average amount saved for college for families with children ages 13-17

45%: Percentage of families saving for college who use a general savings account to do so (making it the most popular college-savings vehicle)

18%: Percentage of families saving for college who are using a retirement account as a college-savings vehicle

13%: Percentage of families saving for college using a Coverdell Education Savings Account

29%: Percentage of families saving for college who use a 529 plan

$20,671: Average 529 plan account balance as of June 2014

35%: Percentage of parents using 529 plans who say they do so for the tax benefits (making it the number one reason)

56%: Percentage of parents who don’t have 529 college-savings plans and who say they’ve never heard of them

44%: Percentage of parents who say they are extremely or somewhat confident they’ll be able to meet their child’s/children’s future college costs

1-5: Most common age range at which parents begin saving for a child’s college education (48% of respondents)

38%: Percentage of parents who say they have discussed paying for college with their child or children

23%: Percentage of families in which at least one child has his or her own college-savings account to which he or she contributes

Financial Aid
49%: Percentage of all financial aid given that was in the form of grants in 2012-13

36%: Percentage of students receiving federal Pell Grants in 2012-13

43%: Percentage given in the form of federal student loans for the same time period

34%: Percentage of undergraduate students taking out federal student loans in 2012-13

$6,764: Average amount students borrowed that year

71%: Percentage of graduating seniors in 2012 who left school with student loan debt

$29,400: Average amount owed by this group

The Value of a Degree
$57,616: Median earnings for workers age 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree in 2013

$33,852: Median earnings for workers age 25 and older with only a high school diploma in 2013

65%: Increase in median lifetime earnings for workers with a bachelor’s degree as compared to those with only a high school diploma

4.0%: Unemployment rate for workers age 25 and over with a bachelor’s degree in 2013

7.5%: Unemployment rate for workers age 25 and over with only a high school diploma in 2013

 

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