What is the top concern for parents and students about college?  We have talked a lot about the student loan debt crisis. Just to refresh your memory, there is now $1.48 trillion in total student loan debt according to Student Loan Hero with 44.2 million Americans with student loan debt — that is a little more than 13.5 percent of the entire U.S. population. The average monthly student loan payment for those aged between 20 and 30 is $351.00.

Many students who have graduated are finding it hard to pay back their student loan debt. And due to the massive amount of coverage this crisis has received over the past several years, it is no wonder that debt is now the top concern of many parents and students. This is evident in a survey published by the Princeton Review as cited by Forbes.

This latest survey acquired responses from 9,345 high school students who were applying to college. Along with this group were 1,613 parents of college applicants. The respondents of this survey came from all 50 states, as well as from 80 different countries. Here are some of the things that this survey found.

How the Top College Concern Has Changed

The last four years, from 2013 to 2018, the top concern among parents and students was debt. However, the previous six years before that, from 2007 to 2012, was that a student would get into their first-choice college but would be unable to afford it. And the year before that in 2006 saw the top concern of students and parents worrying that they would not get their first college choice.

Which Colleges Graduated Students with the Most Debt?

In the above-mentioned Forbes article, it went a step further by researching which schools had the highest debt per-student. This included Providence College, which had $36,011 of average debt per student, and Drexel University’s LeBow College, where the average was $43,894.

It is for this reason that John Byrne proposed his explanation regarding why the choice of choosing a college has become heavily reliant uon satisfying the student’s career path. 42 percent survey respondents stated that this weighed heavily on their minds when deciding which school to go to. The remaining 58 percent divided up this way:

  • 40 percent said they would choose a college that would be the best fit overall;
  • 10 percent said it would be based on the most affordable; and
  • 8 percent said they would pick the school with the best academic reputation.

What this Survey Means

Although it only surveys a small segment of the population, hopefully, it is a key indicator that the larger population of future college students and their parents are waking up to the student debt problem. To really address this issue, it needs to start with a culture change followed by education.

When I was going through school, from elementary up to high school, going to college just seemed like the natural next step. Important questions like: what is my return on investment? and Will I be able to get a job that pays well enough to handle the debt? never came to my mind. It always started with what you were passionate about because it was assumed if you were passionate about something the money would follow.

It is my hope that the next generation of graduating high school seniors will not be as naive as I was and really takes the time to dig into every aspect of going to college. For starters, here is our article detailing college expenses and ways to reduce them.

If what I have said has resonated with you, I only have one more thing to say: college is not the end-all, be-all option. If you are brave enough to explore trade school or other career paths that don’t need a four-year degree, I commend you. But if you decide that college is your desired path, then be part of the culture change and do your research with care.