Who pays for college? It may depend on race or institution

Although discussions about free university for all have intensified recently, paying for higher education is a responsibility that still falls on students, their tutors, or sometimes both.

According to our student loan debt statistics, 60 percent of all college graduates leave campus with student loan debt. In addition, there are approximately 45 million borrowers who collectively owe $ 1.52 trillion in student debt, although the amounts each owe varies widely.

A previous LendEDU report which was presented in the the Wall Street newspaper found that only 6 percent of parents of women paid for the majority of college education, compared to 10 percent for men.

Find out more about how students pay for college, we decided to revisit the subject on a larger scale. Using licensed data from College Pulse, LendEDU analyzed 13,563 unique responses from current students who were asked the following question: “Are you responsible for paying for college? “

The responses were then broken down to reveal how the responsibility for paying for college changes between gender, race, college, major, and region.

Overall results

The plurality of students, 39 percent, said they are responsible for paying for a portion of their college education. This likely means that they took on student loan debt, but the remaining cost was covered by grants, scholarships, or savings.

Meanwhile, 29% of respondents said they manage the entire cost of college themselves, while 32% do not pay it at all. As previously reported, data from LendEDU found that 60 percent of graduates have some student loan debt, meaning that a large portion of the remaining 40 percent without debt is likely to belong to groups of students who were not. not responsible for paying for college education or who were only partially responsible. .

Results by race

While the share of each race’s survey participants paying for part of college remained fairly constant throughout, there were some notable trends.

Respondents from the Middle East were the most likely not to pay for any of their college education (48%) and Asian participants were not far behind (45%). On the flip side, the Black and Hispanic / Latino cohorts were the least likely to not be responsible for paying for college education at all (26% each).

On the other hand, Native American students reported that they most often had to pay full tuition (36%). Black and Hispanic / Latino respondents were not far behind (32 percent each), while Asians and Middle Easterners were the least responsible for the total cost (18 percent).

Results by gender

With no response option differentiating by more than one percent, the gender distribution was the most uniform of any presented in this report.

33 percent of women said they pay nothing for college, compared to 32 percent of men. 40 percent of male students are responsible for part of the costs of college, while 39 percent of women have the same obligation. Finally, 29 percent of female students pay all expenses, compared to 28 percent of men.

Results by school

To be considered for this section of the report, an institution had to have a minimum of 30 current students answering the question.

It was quite interesting to see so many Ivy League colleges and universities topping the list, meaning they have a high percentage of students who don’t have to worry about paying for the university. Seven of the top 12 institutions from the initial sort were members of the Ivy League, with the remaining member Cornell ranking 23rd.

Additionally, elite institutions outside of the Ivy League like Duke, Tufts, Washington University at St. Louis, Cal Berkeley, and Carnegie Mellon all ranked very high in terms of students with no financial responsibility in Higher Education.

This trend is probably due to a high percentage of students attending these schools from well-off families who can manage the costs quite easily. Additionally, the best universities and colleges, especially Ivy League schools, are known for their massive endowments, which offer scholarships that can help lower the total cost.

Conversely, public schools like Washington State University, Rutgers University, Central Michigan University, and Arizona State University had the highest percentages of students who take responsibility for paying for a college degree.

Public schools, known for their low tuition fees, are a great alternative for students who have a limited ability to afford higher education, which is probably why they have such a high percentage of paying students. all their university experience.

Results by region

It is important to note that the regions listed symbolize the regions where the students come from, not the location of their respective institutions.

The most interesting data point is that 51% of international students said they had no responsibility to pay for college, while only 35% of the closest cohort, the Northeast, responded. likewise.

Why could it be? For starters, a good number of international students are likely to come from wealthy families if they are even considering a transcontinental trip for a college degree.

In addition, many American higher education institutions have programs that reduce tuition fees for students coming from certain countries, exchange programs and scholarships that provide full coverage of tuition fees for international students. In addition, some foreign countries have implemented programs and scholarships that will pay their citizens to receive a college degree from a US university.

The Northeast, anchored in wealthy cities like New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington DC, had the second highest percentage of students who did not need to pay for college at all and the second highest percentage the lower number of students who pay full fees. of college.

Results by major

For a major to count for this part of the report, it had to have at least 30 unique responses.

At first glance, it’s hard to notice any really meaningful themes in the table above, but the data is nonetheless interesting to examine.

A more interesting method would be to see what type of average salary each of these majors usually leads to in order to foreshadow the financial health of the respondents. However, since the precise amount of money each student spent on their college education is not available, it would be nearly impossible to develop a quantifiable measure with this data.

Your options for paying for your college education

Below, EDU loan offers different options to pay for your studies.

Federal financial assistance

This is really a two-pronged response, as federal financial assistance can take different forms. The first includes scholarships, grants, and work-study programs, and these forms of financial assistance are the ones you should prioritize as they often do not need to be repaid.

The second is federal student loans, which you should turn to once the above options are exhausted, as they will usually have a lower value student loan interest rates compared to private student loans.

For both, you will need to submit your Free application for federal student aid (FAFSA) as this will determine the amount of financial aid you will receive to help pay for your education. When deciding how to pay for your education, completing your FAFSA is the most important step you need to take.

Private student loans

Once you reach your maximum federal financial aid, you will likely still have some tuition bill gaps to fill.

This is when you might turn to private student loans to finance the remaining portion of your college education.

As there are many private student lenders, like College Avenue, Citizens Bank, and SeriousIt is imperative that you compare all of your options to increase your chances of getting the best private student loan possible.

Student loans for parents

A third option available to you to pay for your college education is the Parent Student Loan.

Student loans to parents can come from the federal government in the form of Federal Parent PLUS loans or from a private lender like College Ave.

Either way, your parents will be the ones taking out the loan and will also be responsible for repaying the loan, which could be a useful way to find out more.


All the data that can be found in this report comes from a single source, Pulse College. College Pulse, an online survey and research platform focused on college demographics, collected responses from 13,563 students who are currently enrolled full-time in four-year degree programs for the following question : “Are you responsible for paying for college? “

The initial sample was taken from College Pulse’s undergraduate student panel, which includes more than 235,000 verified students representing more than 200 different four-year colleges and universities in all 50 states. We then applied a post-stratification adjustment using demographic distributions from the 2017 Current Population Survey to account for non-response bias. Sample weights were rebalanced for age, race, ethnicity, and gender with an iterative proportional adjustment process.

While the total number of respondents was 13,563, you may notice that almost all of the different sections have a different number of respondents. While all respondents were from the original pool, some were filtered based on the breakdown made. For example, if a school did not have 30 unique respondents when allocating the school, they were excluded. Or, if a respondent did not have a racial classification in the data set, they were excluded. Just as a school needed 30 unique responses for the school split, majors needed 30 unique responses to be included in the main split.

All of the numbers listed in the report are from a simple division of the total number of responses for each section.

See more LendEDU’s research

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