By Ylan Q. Mui Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 5, 2010; 12:02 AM
American families are scaling back plans to pay for their children’s college education as the stunted economic recovery continues to weigh on household budgets, according to a survey to be released Tuesday that was commissioned by college lender Sallie Mae.
The study, which was conducted by Gallup, found that the percentage of families who planned to make little or no contribution to tuition increased, while the percentage who expected to cover more than half of expenses decreased. The trends were particularly pronounced in Hispanic families, where the number who thought they could only pay a little jumped from 12 percent to 35 percent.
In addition, the percentage of families who said the reason they are not socking away money for college is that they cannot afford it rose from 62 percent last year to 68 percent this year.
“They’re adjusting their expectations to the economic conditions, both generally and what they may be experiencing on the individual level,” said Bill Diggins, Gallup’s lead researcher on the survey.
Still, the study found that even though families are financially stressed, saving for college remained a priority. About one-fifth of families reported it as a top financial goal – up from 14 percent last year and on par with those who rank saving for retirement as the priority.