American families are counting more on their own income and savings, and less so on student loans, to pay for higher education, according to an annual study by Sallie Mae.
For the 2013-14 academic year, the typical family paid 22 percent of total college costs by borrowing -- down from 27 percent in each of the preceding two school years. They paid 42 percent of college costs using income or savings from the parents and/or student, compared to 38 percent the year before and 40 percent in 2011-12.
Budget-conscious families "are not going to write a blank check" for college," comments study co-author Sarah Ducich. "They are making a lot of decisions to control the costs." That includes not only leaning on their own financial resources -- including withdrawals from retirement savings -- but also choosing lower-cost community colleges over four-year universities.