American Teen Views on Student Loans and College Education

American Teen Views on Student Loans and College Education

Core Facts

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The student loan debt level in America has skyrocketed over the last decade. The total debt is currently to around $1.2 trillion. According to a survey by Sallie Mae, families are under increasing pressure to take out large loans to finance college, spending 16% or more in 2015 than the previous year — the biggest increase in five years. 

Parent out-of-pocket spending was the number one source used, surpassing scholarships and grants (30%) for the first time since 2010. Among families who did borrow, the student signed for nearly three-fourths of the amount borrowed. 

Before a family commits to the burden of a student loan, perhaps they should talk to their kids - a recent survey of 1000 teens between 13 and 17 revealed that only 11% plan to take out a student loan.  

  • 89% intend to go to college.
  • 60% are planning to find a way to pay for college without taking out a student loan.
  • 40% expect scholarships and grants to cover most of their costs.
  • 21% anticipate help from the family - parents and/or grandparents.
  • 17% plan to work to make the money for college.
  • 65% said the person who borrowed the money for college should pay off the debt, even if it’s more than they can easily repay now.

Less than half of American families are saving for college, and the average college savings balance dropped 25% from $13,408 in 2014 to $10,040 in 2015, the lowest level in three years.  Only two in five families have a plan to pay for all years of college before their child enrolls.

A 529 plan can offer tax benefits now and help pay for college costs when it’s needed. Use a college fund calculator to figure what you need to save, and then speak to a financial planning advisor about the various types of 529 college plans available. 

The cost of a college education is fast becoming a contender for the largest investment a family will make. Thinking ahead and saving for college can give a child a financial head start – they may have a better chance of finding a job, they’ll probably earn more than someone who did not go to college, and they’ll have no crippling student loan debt. 



Certain 529 plans are offered by prospectus. Investors should read the prospectuses carefully and consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses and other information before investing. There are risks inherent in investing. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be used in connection with the evaluation of any investments offered by David Lerner Associates, Inc. This material does not constitute an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered in connection with the purchase or sale of securities. 

To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. 

Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.

These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable-- we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

David Lerner Associates does not provide tax or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances. Member FINRA & SIPC


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Founded in 1976, David Lerner Associates is a privately-held broker/dealer with headquarters in Syosset, New York and branch offices in Westport, CT; Boca Raton, FL; Teaneck and Princeton, NJ; and White Plains, NY. For more information contact David Lerner Associates Call 516-921-4200 Visit our website:

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Jake Mendlinger
Account Manager
516.829.8374 X 232

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