College Guide


July 24, 2013 2:07 PM Americans Rely More on Scholarships/Grants, Less on Parents to Pay for College

By Daniel Luzer

A new report by the Sallie Mae Foundation indicates how Americans are paying for college today.

While we tend to assume that Americans pay for college with student and parental debt (and that is, of course, a huge part of it), the truth is that the greatest source of college funding for the typical American family is grants and scholarships.


The report also indicates that average college spending per student was about $21,000 last year, down $3,000 from 2010. Parents’ average contributions have declined 35 percent since 2011. They provided only $5,727 last year.

It’s a little early to discern general trends from this report. It looks like in the last few years parents and students have been paying less for college, and more and more of their education has come through scholarships. Whether this continues for the next decade or so remains to be seen. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer


  • Demosthenes on July 25, 2013 12:24 PM:

    The results of this report are logical. As college costs soar, students and their families struggle to pay, and schools with substantial endowments find ways to assist. I know from personal experience that many private universities are offering merit scholarships without any requirement of financial need. When these schools' "rack rates" are around $60,000 a year, even upper middle class families are unable to afford a college education. I would not be surprised if this trend continues.