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Student Borrowing Rises, Sallie Mae Says

July 19, 2017

Students and parents are borrowing more to pay for college, according to the latest installment of a survey by Sallie Mae, which the large student lender has conducted for a decade.

The average amount students and families (Sallie Mae surveyed 800 from each group) reported paying for college during the just-completed academic year was $23,757, which was roughly the same as the previous year. Scholarships and grants covered 35 percent of what families spent, the largest contributor to the total expenditure.

Borrowing climbed to 27 percent from 20 percent last year, the survey found. Student borrowing covered 19 percent (up from 13 percent), while parent borrowing was 8 percent. Over all, 42 percent of families borrowed to help pay for college.

Family income and savings covered 34 percent of expenditures on college, with parents chipping in 23 percent and students covering 11 percent.

Figure 1A: How the Typical Family Pays for College, Average Amount, Year over Year, for academic years from 2012 to 2017. Shows split between scholarships and grants, relatives and friends, student income and savings, parent income and savings, student borrowing, and parent borrowing. Figure 1B: How the Typical Family Pays for College, Funding Source Share, Year over Year.

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Paul Fain

Paul Fain, Contributing Editor, came to Inside Higher Ed in September 2011, after a six-year stint covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Paul has also worked in higher ed P.R., with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn't stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., Paul has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper and Mother Jones. He's won a few journalism awards, including one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Paul got hooked on journalism while working too many hours at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fain plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

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