Fewer parents are willing to help their children pay for college, according to an annual survey from Discover Student Loans.

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While 16 percent of families plan to contribute nothing toward the cost, 77 percent of parents said they will assist financially, down from 81 percent in 2013.

Just over half of survey respondents indicated they are likely to help their child repay student loans, representing another drop from last year's findings.

Still, the overwhelming majority of parents admitted they see the value of a college education.

Leslie Beck, principal of Compass Wealth Management in Maplewood, said the findings suggest that parents are learning to comprehensively discuss college choices and finances with their children before any serious decisions are made.

"I think it's important that parents and their children sit down and have this conversation," Beck said. "Parents need to be upfront with their children about what their needs are going to be going forward as far as retirement savings are concerned, and what the child needs to expect to be able to contribute."

Beck noted there is only one way to save for retirement, but several ways to fund an education. She said families should seek to use as many free money options as possible, like grants and scholarships.

Survey respondents were basically split on whether cost would be a factor when choosing a college.