Poor Grades for Saving

Parents have high hopes for their children earning scholarships -- and modest expectations for adding to college funds.
October 16, 2006

American parents know that college for their children will require plenty of money, but many appear to have a lot of confidence that their children's talents will bring the cash in, a new study suggests.

AllianceBernstein, an investment company that works with state college savings plans, commissioned a survey of 1,358 parents with pre-college age children and a household income of at least $50,000. Consistent with previous surveys, this one found that Americans don't actually save nearly enough for college expenses, even though parents expressed a strong commitment to helping their children with college expenses.

Many of those parents apparently believe that their children will bring in scholarships:

  • 72 percent believe that their children have special talents or qualities that will earn them scholarships.
  • 72 percent report that they encouraged their children academically to earn scholarships.
  • 47 percent report that they encouraged their children in athletics to win scholarships.
  • 38 percent said that they encouraged artistic talent in their children to win scholarships.

A major theme of the report is that parents could do more to save, regardless of their income levels. Of parents in the survey, 58 percent say that they spent more on dining out or take-out food in the last year than on saving for college. In other categories of spending, 49 percent report that they spent more on vacations, 38 percent more on electronics, and 31 percent more on their children's allowance than on saving for college.

Such figures may explain why only 27 percent of parents in the survey believe that they will meet their goal for college savings.


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