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The debate about the soaring cost of education in America rages on. But, there's good news. Parents are actually spending less on college tuition, according to Sallie Mae's 10th annual "How America Pays for College" report.
The average amounts families paid in 2016-2017 fell by $5,527 to $23,757. That's the lowest dollar amount spent by parents since 2009, during the financial crisis.
Scholarships and grants covered a greater share of college costs, making up 35 percent of costs in 2016-2017. On average, scholarships and grants paid $8,390 of the expense. That's up from $331 from the prior year. Nearly half of families use scholarships for college.
The report interviewed 800 parents of children ages 18-24 enrolled as undergraduate students and 800 undergraduate students aged 18-24.
Here are the highlights:
Broken down by region:
How are 529 college saving plans being factored in? According to the report, only a small portion of families are taking advantage of these funds to pay for college. Only 13 percent of families used 529 plans, using an average of $10,031.
However, college planning by parents may not be taking into account of cost beyond undergraduate years. Sallie Mae says 59 percent anticipate students will enroll in graduate school.