Annual Survey of Parents Finds 63% of Students say their post-high school plans are returning to normal

The pandemic caused havoc on the college admissions process as Colleges were unable to use traditional recruiting means to reach students. Many students upended their plans and the traditional tours of colleges were cut all together for them. Financing that College education also took on more angst as many parents jobs were lost or put on hold. A new study conducted by Discover Student Loans shows things are beginning to return to normal for many students and their parents. Some findings from the survey:

  • Sixty-three percent of parents say their child’s post-high school plans have returned to what they were before the pandemic.  
  • 40% of parents say their ability to help their child pay for college has improved since this time last year.
  • Nearly three-in-four parents say they will pay for half or more of their child’s education.  
  • 43% of parents say they won’t limit their child’s college choice based on price – up 10 percentage points from 2018. 
  • However – 63% of parents remain concerned about having enough money to pay for their child’s education.  
  • 38% of parents say paying for college is their child’s top anxiety about attending college – followed by applying for scholarships and aid (30%) – all of which outranks choosing a major and tackling more difficult classes. 

Families are working together to find a plan to pay for college.  

Over half (59%) of parents say the pandemic caused them and their student to have more candid conversations about how their family will pay for college. While 41% of parents don’t feel like they started saving early enough, up from 37% in 2019, most are planning to leverage a mix of resources to finance college. 

When asked how they were going to finance college, 61% of parents say the pandemic has not impacted how they plan to pay. Scholarships/grants (47%), savings (45%) and student loans (37%) continue to be the most popular financing options among parents. Notably – 11% of parents report they will forego saving for their retirement to help their student pay for college.  

“It’s important that parents and students discuss how the cost of college is getting split in a way that’s realistic and comfortable for all involved”, says Manny Chagas, VP of Discover Student Loans.. “Utilizing free online tools and resources, like budgeting calculators and planning calendars, can help families make smarter college financing decisions.” 

About the Survey 

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a Dynata (formerly Research Now/SSI) survey conducted on behalf of Discover Financial Services. The survey was conducted online; fielded from May 10 – May 15, 2021 with a total sample size of 1,000 US parents of college bound students. The margin of sampling error was ±2.53 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.