More Students Are Using Their Own Money to Pay for College

Forty-five percent said they paid for their education with their own savings and income. That’s an eight-percentage-point increase over 2019.

April 25, 2022
 
A graduation cap on top of a pile of money.
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More students are using their own money to pay for college rather than relying on their parents’ funds, according to the College Ave Student Loans survey conducted by Barnes & Noble College Insights.

The survey found that out of 1,100 respondents attending four-year colleges, 45 percent said they paid for their education with their own savings and income. That’s an eight-percentage-point increase over 2019, when 37 percent of students said they used their own funds for college.

The top method of paying for college was merit financial aid—meaning scholarships and grants—cited by 51 percent of students, though that was down from 64 percent in 2019. Tied for third this year were students who relied on their parents’ savings and income and those who took out federal student loans, at 41 percent each.

Even though more students are paying out of pocket, fewer said they were stressed about the cost of college, the survey found—68 percent versus 83 percent last year. When asked about their understanding of personal finances, 62 percent said they felt confident using a checking account and 59 percent using a savings account. The majority of students, 51 percent, have a job, and 50 percent said they have a personal budget.

“Undergraduate students are deeply committed to their higher education,” said Joe DePaulo, co-founder and CEO of College Ave Student Loans, in a statement. “Our survey highlights the students’ investment in their college journey, and their strong belief that a college degree is a crucial milestone on the path toward their successful future.”

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