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Financial Literacy - College funding
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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

Priorities
But even as parents are making exceptional sacrifices, the survey tells a second story: Although 39 percent say they will take a second job to put their progeny through school, nearly the same number (36 percent) say maintaining their present lifestyle is more of a priority than sending their child to college. This begs the question: Are the sacrifices parents are making really to ensure they maintain their present lifestyle while sending children to college?

"The survey results suggest that parents who have higher incomes worry more about their personal expenses, now and in the future, than their children's college education," says Kantrowitz."Though everybody seems to worry about the same about paying down debt."

Financial priorities more important than college

Despite the sacrifices parents are making to help their students with college, three-quarters (76 percent) of parents have at least one financial concern that is higher than putting their kids through college. Perhaps that number isn't high enough, McBride suggests: "Only 37 percent consider retirement savings a higher financial priority than funding college. Hello?! The expression that 'kids can borrow money for college but parents cannot borrow for retirement' may sound trite -- but it's true!

"Further," he points out, in the sacrifices question we find that "41 percent will postpone retirement to pay college costs."

Caring for an elderly parent is another financial concern that takes priority for more than a third (42 percent) of respondents. This illustrates the dual pulls at work that have earned midlifers the additional moniker of the "Sandwich Generation." Unless today's parents fully fund their own retirements, they may unwittingly put their children in the same situation.

-- Posted: Sept. 17, 2007
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