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Financial Literacy - College funding
National poll results
More than half of parents say they can't afford college, but they'll postpone their retirement to help finance it.
Smart ways to pay for college

Half of families can't afford college

While parents' expectations concerning their ability to pay increase with income, they decrease with age, something Finaid.org publisher Mark Kantrowitz doesn't find surprising. He chalks up the decline to a few things: increased worry about retirement savings as the date approaches, a more realistic view of finances that comes with age and an assumption that the older the parents are, the closer they are to having children in college. While the younger parents are more optimistic, he finds it "fascinating how much higher the expectations are for age 18 to 24, with 63.1 percent of those who are barely out of college themselves believing they can afford their children's college education."

College dreams come with an increasingly high price tag. And for parents who hope to make that dream a reality for their offspring, tucking a little extra money away doesn't cut it, either because the extra money isn't there or because it's not enough. While nearly four out of five parents (78 percent) plan to make, or have made, sacrifices to afford the cost of college attendance, almost two-thirds (64 percent) are making more than one sacrifice.

Sacrifices parents make to pay for college

"Clearly, parents face competing financial priorities -- with paying for college and the need to save for retirement often colliding," Draut says. "Not surprisingly, most parents are willing to put other financial priorities aside in order to pay for their children's college, with just over half of those aged 50 to 64 reporting they plan to or already have postponed retirement in order to pay for college."

Willingness to postpone retirement is one of several areas McBride feels reveal "the misguided financial priorities evident in the responses."

-- Posted: Sept. 17, 2007
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