Survey Shows Disconnect Between High School Perceptions of Borrowing and Reality

Expectations about paying for college among high school students are missing the mark, with many unable to identify what financial resources they plan to use, according to a recent survey from Navient.
The survey, conducted with the financial education group EverFi, found that 13 percent of high school juniors and seniors who plan to attend college were unable to identify the financial resources they plan to use to help pay for college. In fact, only 38 percent of high school upperclassmen – and 41 percent of high school seniors – plan to use student loans to pay for college, despite recent trends that indicate a much higher borrowing rate among college students. 
The Navient and EverFi survey found that college students have “more realistic expectations” about paying for college, as 61 percent of college freshman expect to borrow to pay for college at some point in their academic careers, which more closely aligns with the percentage of borrowers who have student loan debt. 
The survey also found that many students plan to work while enrolled in school, particularly among first-generation college students. First-generation college students also indicated in the survey that they are more likely to consider managing college costs through non-loan options, such as by taking time off from school, attending a community college, or living at home.
One possible explanation for the disconnect between how students plan to pay for college and the reality of paying for college is a lack of personalized information and resources prior to applying and enrolling in school. Forty percent of all students surveyed said they were interested in receiving personalized education or advice based on their FAFSAs, including 43 percent of first-generation colleges students and 38 percent of students with at least one college-educated parent.
"These findings reveal too many young Americans pursue higher education without all the information necessary to have a full understanding of how they will pay for their degree, or the ultimate affordability of the loans they take on," said Jack Remondi, Navient president and CEO, said in a press release. "Better information sooner is essential to empowering prospective college students to make more informed decisions about where to attend, what major to pursue, and how to pay for a degree.”
Based on the findings of the survey, Navient recommends the following:
  • Financial aid award letters that include the full expected cost of obtaining a degree;
  • Personalized information for students prior to their choosing a school and whether or not to borrow student loans; and 
  • Information on the cost of borrowing plans and the benefits of borrowing less for students who choose to take out student loans.


Publication Date: 4/25/2017

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