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Families Cutting College Costs [AUDIO]

College is expensive. That’s nothing new, but families across New Jersey and the country are taking a different approach to paying for the continually rising costs of higher education.

Brookdale Community College
Brookdale Community College (Facebook)

According to a new national study from Sallie Mae and Ipsos Public Affairs, 69% (the highest level since the study began) of families eliminated certain college choices because of cost. For the first time, more than 50% of college students chose to live at home instead of on-campus. Other measures included adding a roommate and an overall shift from four-year colleges to lower-cost community colleges. In 2012, 29% of students were enrolled in the latter, compared to 23% two years ago.

The study showed families, as a whole, paid 5% less for college compared to a year ago.

“I think this is the aftertaste, so to speak, of the 2008 credit crisis,” said Greg Plechner, Senior Wealth Manager at Modera Wealth Management in Westwood, New Jersey.

Plechner added rising tuition costs are sparking the need for families to cut costs.

“If the rest of the economy’s inflation rate is between 2.7 and 3%, and college is going up from 5 to 7%, something’s got to give,” Plechner explained.

The survey also found a significant shift in who is paying for a college student’s education. Four years ago, students took on 24% of the total cost. In 2012, that number spiked 6%. Their parents’ share dropped 8% in the same time period. Grants and scholarships made up the difference, but they declined from last year’s peak.

“This is really a tale of the resilient American family who still sees the extreme value of a college education and are finding new and creative ways to pay for it,” said Clifford Young, managing director, Ipsos Public Affairs.

Still, though, 83% of students and parents strongly agreed that higher education is an investment in the future.

Plechner said there’s an unnecessary focus on four-year degrees in the United States.

“You could do really well and learn a valuable trade by going to a two-year college, and you can probably save a nice buck,” Plechner said.

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