According to a recent survey from COUNTRY Financial Security Index, only 57% of Americans believe that college merits the price tag. And if this stat doesn’t surprise you, there’s more: Back in 2008, a whopping 81% of Americans said that they would invest in a college education. That’s a 23% slide in only four years.
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It seems that we’ve lost faith in college. Maybe for good reason. Research shows that college grads are just as likely to face long-term unemployment as high-school grads without a college degree.
But despite worrying information like this, Americans haven’t lost faith in all colleges. In fact, they’re willing to take on more debt to attend higher-ranked schools. 62% of those surveyed said they’d pay up for a better education.
Of course, choosing to attend a better school over a cheaper school comes at no small cost. College bills weigh on parents as well as kids, especially as parents simultaneously consider their retirement goals. And while four of every five American parents are helping to pay for their kids’ college education, the survey also found that parents consider their retirement plans more important, financially, than their kids’ education. (Ready to work on yours? Use our checklist.)
“It’s encouraging many Americans are focusing on retirement and are still willing to help their kids with the cost of college,” says Joe Burhmann, a manager at COUNTRY Financial. “However, saving for both can be challenging.”
Nevertheless, Burhmann believes that college is still a valuable investment, and urges parents to adopt an “aggressive plan” to successfully save for the kids’ education.
What exactly does an “aggressive plan” like this entail?
“Start saving early,” he explains. “[A]nd investigate all your funding avenues and alternative options, such as community college or working part-time.”