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Paying for College: Pieces of the Funding Puzzle

The typical family uses a combination of income, savings, borrowing, and grants/scholarships to pay for college. Not surprisingly, the largest source of funding — 45% — comes from parents in the form of current income and savings.

Starting a college fund as early as possible and aggressively looking for grant aid at college time can help families reduce the amount they may need to borrow, giving students greater flexibility when making decisions. Colleges are usually the best source of grant aid. A net price calculator (available on every college website) can help students estimate how much grant aid they might receive at specific colleges.

Pie chart of how Americans pay for college.

Source: How America Pays for College, 2021, Sallie Mae. Prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions Copyright 2022.