Survey Finds the Majority of Parents Expect to Significantly Influence, Contribute Financially to Child’s Pursuit of Higher Education

New CollegeWell survey sheds light on parental perceptions toward college planning, total costs and savings options

BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A new survey released today from CollegeWell, a premier organization that facilitates expert guidance and support for families pursuing higher education, found that 62 percent of parents expect to significantly influence their children’s college or university selection. Parents also indicated they would like to finance nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of the total cost of higher education for their children. At a time when the nation grapples with the increased cost of higher education, legacy admissions, and ongoing debate about the value of four-year degrees, the data reveal critical insights into family perspectives on college planning, financing and savings.

The research, conducted by Isurus Market Research and Consulting, included a nationally representative online survey of 600 parents or guardians of children aged 15 or younger who have initiated some kind of college savings program. In addition to the survey, a series of in-depth interviews were conducted to delve into the intricacies of parental attitudes and shed light on the awareness of college expenses and utilization of college savings products.

Key findings include:

Influence on College Choice: The survey uncovered a crucial aspect of the college choice process—parental influence. Sixty-two (62) percent of parents or guardians expect to significantly influence their child’s choice of college or university.

A Recognition of College Costs: Parents displayed clear awareness of total four-year college costs and little surprise when presented with average estimates of $111K for public colleges (53 percent were not surprised) and $230K for private colleges (48 percent were not surprised).

Aspirations for College Savings: When asked how much of their children’s college expenses they’d like to be able to pay for, 37 percent of parents and guardians indicated “as much as they realistically can” and 29 percent of parents reported “100% of wherever their children go.” What’s more, 66 percent of future costs is the median parents would like to be able to pay for the one-quarter (24 percent) of families who indicate aspirations to save a percentage of total costs

Clear Priority for College Savings: The survey asked parents to rank the most important attributes of college savings products from a list that included flexibility, fees, level of risk, ease of understanding, tax benefits, or return on investment and growth.

Sixty-eight (68) percent of parents ranked return on investment and growth as the first (50 percent) or second (18 percent) most important attribute, followed by ease of understanding (27 percent) and tax benefits (26 percent).

After being presented with multiple savings products, including regular savings/CDs, stock market/mutual funds, Roth IRA, savings bonds and 529 plans, 529 plans emerged as the preferred college savings vehicle, with 68 percent indicating they have already started using 529 plans to save for their children’s college expenses. This was followed by regular savings accounts/CDs (49 percent) and stock market or mutual funds (26 percent).

“A bachelor’s degree remains a valuable and necessary credential for future career pathways, and higher education is under significant pressure to remain an affordable, attainable option for families,” said Bob Cole, President and CEO at CollegeWell. “When it comes to navigating college savings for families, 529 plans remain the gold standard. Parents look to these plans because they align with their financial goals and aspirations as they support their children through postsecondary education. It is no surprise that financial professionals recognize their importance when advising on college savings.”

To learn more about CollegeWell and 529 plans, visit

About CollegeWell

CollegeWell is a pioneering organization committed to transforming the landscape of college savings. Through education and financial tools, CollegeWell provides families with guidance and support to pursue the best higher education opportunities for their children. CW is the sponsor of Private College 529 Plan.

About Isurus Market Research and Consulting

Founded in 2000, Isurus specializes in providing research insights to clients in B2B, technology, education, and healthcare markets. We’ve partnered with over 200 clients on over 800 engagements spanning the range of business needs and challenges. Our clients range from start-ups to Fortune 500 enterprises.

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Jonathan Sparling