Rising tuition fees and the uncertain state of the economy are causing more people to put their own retirement savings ahead of their children’s college education.
A new survey from Country Financial found that the number of Americans who think college is a good financial investment plunged to 64% down 16 points from last year and 17 points from 2008.
The sentiment about higher education coincides with a shift in saving priorities. In a reversal from last year, most Americans say their own retirement (43%) is more important than saving for their child's college (41%). Those who picked retirement first increased two points from last year, while those who say their child's education is the top priority dropped 6 points. Those who say they are unsure about what's more important increased four points to 17%.
Nearly a third (31%) of Americans borrowed money to pay for their education, 64% of whom have completed paying off their loans. Further, of those who borrowed, half say it had little to no impact on other life decisions like marriage or buying a home.
Twenty-eight percent say it had somewhat of an impact and 20% say it had a large impact.
Forty percent of those in the 18-29 age group say education loans had a significant impact on other life decisions, at least 24 points above all other age groups surveyed. A majority (65%) of Americans say parents should be responsible for paying part of their child's college education. Eighteen percent believe parents should foot the entire bill, while 13% thinks parents should not pay for any college costs.
Younger Americans ages 18-29 were most likely to say parents shouldn't have to finance any of the costs of higher education for their kids (15%).