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September 17, 2019
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Americans spent an average of $26,226 on college last year

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For most families in the U.S., paying for college requires a complex combination of scholarships and grants, savings and loans.

As part of its annual How America Pays for College report, Sallie Mae and Ipsos surveyed 1,000 undergrads and 1,000 parents of undergrads about their college costs for the 2018 – 2019 academic year. They found that the average amount paid for college was $26,226 and broke down the complex ways American families cover these costs.

Here’s how the typical family pays for college:

ONE TIME USE HANDOUT: How america pays for college

Source: “How America Pays For College 2019”, Sallie Mae | Ipsos

According to the report, 82% of college students receive “free financial aid,” which includes scholarships and grants that do not need to be repaid. Scholarships and grants covered 31% of costs, about or $8,177, for families on average — making it the largest source of funding for students.

Three-quarters of families said they received financial aid directly from their student’s school. The average amount of college financial aid was $10,006, while the average financial aid package provided by the government was $2,805.

Students and families covered the remaining costs through a combination of parental income and savings ( 30% of costs), student borrowing (14% of costs), student income and savings (13% of costs), parent borrowing (10% of costs) and borrowing from friends and family (2% of costs).

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