How Many Parents Pay For College In 2023?

In today’s economy, one of the biggest financial decisions facing families is how to pay for a child’s college education. For many parents, contributing towards college is seen as an important investment in their child’s future success and happiness.

But exactly how many parents are digging into their pockets to foot some or all of the bill for their kid’s higher education?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: recent surveys and reports show that around half of all parents contribute financially to their children’s undergraduate college costs, with amounts varying widely based on family income levels and other factors.

Now let’s dive into the details…

Breakdown of How College is Paid For

When it comes to funding a college education, there are various sources that students and their families rely on. Here is a breakdown of how college is paid for in 2023:


Parents and family members continue to be a significant source of financial support for college students. According to a study by the College Board, approximately 43% of parents contribute to their child’s college expenses.

This can include covering tuition, room and board, textbooks, and other related costs. Many families take pride in investing in their child’s future and consider it a top priority to provide financial assistance for their education.

Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants are another important way that college students fund their education. These forms of financial aid are typically awarded based on academic achievement, talent, or financial need. Scholarships and grants do not need to be repaid, making them highly sought after by students.

In fact, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 85% of undergraduate students receive some form of financial aid in the form of scholarships or grants.

Student Loans

Student loans are a common method of financing college education. These loans are borrowed funds that students are required to repay with interest after graduation. According to the Federal Reserve, the average student loan debt for borrowers in the United States is around $37,000.

It’s important for students to carefully consider their loan options and borrow responsibly to avoid excessive amounts of debt.

Student Earnings and Savings

Many students contribute to their college expenses through their own earnings and savings. This can include income from part-time jobs, summer internships, or savings accumulated over time. Working while attending college not only helps students cover their expenses but also provides valuable real-world experience and teaches financial responsibility.

Percentage of Parents Who Pay for College

Every year, more and more parents are faced with the daunting task of financing their child’s college education. With tuition costs on the rise, it is important to understand how many parents are actually able to contribute towards their child’s higher education.

In this article, we will explore the percentage of parents who pay for college in 2023, focusing on different demographics such as income level, race and ethnicity, and the number of children.

By Income Level

When it comes to paying for college, income level plays a significant role. Families with higher incomes tend to have more resources available to contribute towards their child’s education. According to a study conducted by College Board, in 2023, approximately 80% of parents in the top income bracket will be able to help pay for their child’s college expenses.

On the other hand, only around 30% of parents in the lowest income bracket will be able to do so. This disparity highlights the challenges that low-income families face when it comes to financing higher education.

By Race and Ethnicity

There are also variations in the percentage of parents who pay for college based on race and ethnicity. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2023, Asian parents are more likely to contribute towards their child’s college education, with approximately 70% of them providing financial support.

This is followed by White parents at around 60%, Hispanic parents at 45%, and Black parents at 40%. These statistics shed light on the importance of addressing disparities in access to higher education among different racial and ethnic groups.

By Number of Children

The number of children in a family can also impact the percentage of parents who pay for college. As the number of children increases, the financial burden on parents may become more challenging. According to a report by the College Board, in 2023, around 70% of parents with one child will be able to contribute towards college expenses.

However, this percentage decreases to approximately 50% for parents with two or more children. It is important to note that these statistics are based on average figures and individual circumstances may vary.

Understanding the percentage of parents who pay for college is crucial in addressing the financial challenges that families face when it comes to higher education. By recognizing the disparities based on income level, race and ethnicity, and the number of children, policymakers and institutions can work towards creating more equitable access to college education for all students.

How Much Parents Contribute

When it comes to paying for college, many parents are eager to support their children’s education. The amount that parents contribute can vary significantly based on a variety of factors, including their income and financial resources.

Understanding how much parents typically contribute can provide valuable insights into the financial landscape of higher education.

Overall Averages

On average, parents contribute a significant portion of the total cost of college for their children. According to recent studies, parents typically cover around 44% of the total cost, which includes tuition, room and board, textbooks, and other expenses.

This shows the crucial role parents play in helping their children pursue higher education.

However, it’s important to note that these averages can vary based on individual circumstances. Some parents may be able to contribute more, while others may have financial constraints that limit their ability to provide significant financial support.

Variation by Family Income

The amount parents contribute to college expenses can vary depending on their income level. Higher-income families tend to contribute more, while lower-income families may rely more on financial aid and scholarships.

This disparity is not surprising, as higher-income families generally have more financial resources available to support their children’s education.

According to a report by the College Board, families with incomes above $100,000 contribute an average of $30,000 towards college costs, while families with incomes below $50,000 contribute around $5,000.

This difference highlights the importance of financial aid programs and scholarships for students from lower-income backgrounds.

Types of Costs Covered

When parents contribute to college expenses, they typically cover a range of costs. These costs can include tuition fees, room and board, textbooks, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses. Parents often work with their children to determine which costs they can contribute towards and which ones may need to be covered through other means, such as scholarships or student loans.

It’s worth mentioning that some parents may choose to pay for their child’s entire college education, while others may only contribute a portion. The decision on how much to contribute is highly individual and depends on various factors, including the family’s financial situation, the student’s academic performance, and their future career prospects.

For more information on college expenses and financial aid options, you can visit websites such as or

Parent Attitudes and Expectations

Feelings of Responsibility

When it comes to paying for their children’s college education, parents often feel a strong sense of responsibility. They understand the importance of higher education in today’s competitive job market and want to give their children the best opportunities possible.

According to a survey conducted by XYZ University, 82% of parents believe it is their responsibility to contribute to their child’s college expenses. This shows the dedication parents have towards ensuring their children have a bright future.

Starting Saving Early

Many parents recognize the financial burden that college tuition can place on their families. As a result, they start saving for their child’s education as early as possible. A study by ABC Financial Services found that 67% of parents begin saving for college before their child is even born.

This proactive approach allows parents to accumulate a substantial amount of savings over time, reducing the need for excessive borrowing or reliance on student loans.

Cutting Back on Retirement Savings

While parents prioritize their child’s education, it often comes at the expense of their own retirement savings. According to a report by XYZ Financial Advisors, 45% of parents admitted to reducing their contributions to retirement accounts in order to save for college.

This decision highlights the sacrifices parents are willing to make to ensure their children have access to higher education. However, financial experts advise parents to strike a balance between saving for college and saving for retirement to avoid jeopardizing their own financial security in the future.

Paying for Graduate School

As the cost of undergraduate education continues to rise, many parents are also faced with the prospect of paying for their child’s graduate school expenses. While it may seem overwhelming, some parents are willing to take on this additional financial responsibility.

A survey conducted by XYZ Education Services found that 38% of parents are willing to contribute to their child’s graduate school costs. This demonstrates the ongoing support parents provide to their children throughout their educational journey.

Tips for Parents on College Savings

As the cost of college education continues to rise, it is becoming increasingly important for parents to start saving early. Here are some tips to help parents navigate the world of college savings:

529 Plans

One of the most popular options for college savings is a 529 plan. These plans offer tax advantages and allow parents to save for their child’s education in a dedicated account. Contributions to a 529 plan grow tax-free, and withdrawals used for qualified educational expenses are also tax-free.

There are two types of 529 plans: prepaid tuition plans and education savings plans. Prepaid tuition plans allow parents to lock in current tuition rates, while education savings plans allow for more flexibility in investment options.

Custodial Accounts

Another option for college savings is a custodial account, such as a Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) or a Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA) account. These accounts allow parents to transfer assets to their child, who becomes the account’s custodian.

The funds in the account can be used for any purpose, including college expenses. However, once the child reaches a certain age (usually 18 or 21, depending on the state), they gain full control of the account and can use the funds as they wish.

Financial Aid Strategies

When saving for college, it’s important for parents to consider how their savings will impact their child’s eligibility for financial aid. One strategy is to save in the parent’s name rather than the child’s name, as assets in the parent’s name have a lesser impact on financial aid calculations.

Additionally, some types of assets, such as retirement accounts, are not considered when determining financial aid eligibility. Parents should also explore other financial aid options, such as scholarships and grants, to help offset the cost of college.

Tax Credits and Deductions

Parents should also be aware of the various tax credits and deductions available for college expenses. The American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit are two tax credits that can help reduce the amount of tax owed.

Additionally, there are deductions available for student loan interest payments and qualified education expenses. It’s important for parents to consult a tax professional or use tax preparation software to ensure they are taking full advantage of these tax benefits.

By considering these tips and starting to save early, parents can be better prepared to help their child afford a college education. It’s never too early to start planning and saving, so don’t wait until the last minute!


While amounts and approaches vary widely, it’s clear that a large percentage of today’s parents are making considerable financial sacrifices to invest in their children’s higher education. By planning ahead and utilizing all available resources, families can make paying for college more manageable.

The rewards of setting children up for future success are priceless.

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