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New survey data about consumer confidence on the value of a college education indicates that a large percentage of college students believe their education will help them earn enough money to justify the cost of going to college. Parents of college students largely agreed, though not at the same levels as the students, and even fewer parents are confident they can pay for four years of college.

The new data were published in the 2022 College Confidence Index by GradGuard, a tuition insurance company, and College Pulse, which surveyed 1,500 current and prospective college students and 500 parents in June and found that 83 percent of college students are completely, very or somewhat confident “they will earn enough money to make the cost of college worth it.” (Inside Higher Ed conducts surveys with College Pulse but was not involved in this project.) Sixty-three percent of parents are confident that a college education will allow their children to get a good job, and 60 percent believe it is worth the investment, according to the survey report released today. However, only 36 percent of parents say they feel confident they can pay for four years of college for their children.

“Consumer confidence indices already exist across several key industries providing economists, industry leaders, and the general public insight into the current and future conditions of vital sectors of our economy,” Terren Klein, CEO and co-founder of College Pulse, said in the news release. “Given the strong influence of higher education on the U.S. economy, we recognized the need for data on consumer confidence in the value and viability of a college education.”

The survey results show room for improvement in increasing parents’ and students’ confidence in higher education. Students are worried about their ability to earn a degree because of financial or academic challenges. Those surveyed largely agreed that going to college and earning a degree would be worth the investment, but parents and students are concerned about paying for four years of schooling.

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • About 40 percent of college students said they were either completely or very confident that they had enough money to pay for four years of college.
  • Forty-eight percent said they were either “completely” or “very” confident they would earn enough money to make the cost of college worth it.
  • About 40 percent of the college students surveyed have considered dropping out because of either financial or academic challenges, according to the report. A majority of the college students in the survey said they could not afford to pay for an additional semester. The survey included college students at two- and four-year universities.

The survey also found that most of the college students and parents of college students surveyed were not familiar with their schools’ tuition-refund policies.

“Given the recent declines in college enrollment, this timely report reveals new insights into factors influencing consumers’ confidence in paying for college,” John Fees, the co-founder and managing director of GradGuard, wrote in the forward. “Getting your money’s worth from a college education largely depends upon a student completing their degree and there are many emerging risks worth evaluating.”

Fees added that GradGuard’s future studies will look at how other factors affect consumers’ confidence in higher education.

“Beyond that, it is our hope that colleges, universities, private college advisors, and counselors will join us in better educating students and their families about how to protect their investment,” he wrote.