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New Data Reveals High Consumer Confidence in the Value of College but Low Awareness of Financial Risk

New data published in the 2022 College Confidence Index by GradGuard and College Pulse reveals that 83 percent of college students are completely, very or somewhat confident “they will earn enough money to make the cost of college worth it,” according to a recent press release. Parents of college students feel confident that a college education will allow their children to get a good job (63 percent) and that it is worth the investment (60 percent). And yet, only 36 percent of parents of college students say they feel confident they can pay for four years of their child’s college education.

At the same time, college students and their parents are uninformed about how withdrawing might impact them financially, specifically when it comes to their school’s tuition refund policy. Most college students (74 percent) and parents of college students (66 percent) report they are not at all or not too familiar with the tuition refund policy at their school. Meanwhile, four in ten students have considered withdrawing due to financial issues (35 percent), academic challenges (34 percent), health issues, illness or injury (12 percent) and family issues (8 percent). Eleven percent of students cited other reasons for potential withdrawal.

John Fees, Co-Founder and Managing Director of GradGuard, said, “It is critical to better understand the confidence of the nearly 20 million students and parent consumers have in making a substantial investment in education. This year’s report is a timely reminder for students and families, that college life is not risk-free and that they are smart to protect their investment like other large consumer purchases.”

College Pulse surveyed 1,500 current and prospective college students and 500 parents about their perceptions regarding the value, affordability, and viability of a college education. An overall Confidence Index of 46.1 out of 100 was determined using those criteria, signaling room for improvement within higher education to gain the confidence of consumers. Additional findings from the index include:

• Seventeen percent of all college students report knowing someone who withdrew from school due to health issues, illness or injury
• Students of color are more likely to say a college education is one of the most or very important factors for success including 73 percent of Hispanic/Latino students, 62 percent of Black students, and 58 percent of Asian students. In contrast, just 52 percent of white students say the same.
• Every day or nearly every day, a significant number of students are dealing with challenges to their personal wellbeing, such as feelings of anxiety or stress (48 percent), trouble sleeping (34 percent), and feelings of depression (29 percent)

Additionally, financial anxieties about affordability remain high and weigh most heavily on college students who rely on financial aid.

Six in ten (60 percent) college students say they are very or somewhat concerned about being able to pay for college. These concerns are particularly acute amongst students on financial aid, of whom 63 percent say they are concerned about their ability to afford college. This worry is shared by less than half (45 percent) of students not on financial aid.

“Consumer confidence indices already exist across several key industries providing economists, industry leaders, and the general public insight into the current and future conditions of vital sectors of our economy. Given the strong influence of higher education on the U.S. economy, we recognized the need for data on consumer confidence in the value and viability of a college education,” said Terren Klein, CEO and co-founder of College Pulse.

The full 2022 College Confidence Index by GradGuard and College Pulse can be downloaded free of cost on the College Pulse website.

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