“American families overwhelmingly expect their children to attend college,” Sallie Mae’s How America Saves for College 2013 report says. “The majority of parents believe in the value of a college education. At least eight in ten parents agree that college is an investment in their child’s future, that college is part of the American dream and that a college degree is more important now than it used to be.”
Some data support this finding. The number of people attending college between 2000 and 2010 increased 37 percent, with much of that growth occurring in full-time enrollment. This compares against an increase of just 11 percent in the period before that. But rising costs, a dense financial environment, and a tough economy have made it increasingly difficult for families to save for college.
1) The cost of college is skyrocketing
The cost of college in America has increased dramatically over the past 30 years. In constant 2009-2010 dollars, the average cost of education at a four-year institution in 1980 was $8,756. By 2010, the average cost had exploded to $21,6578. At a two-year institution, costs have increased from $5,580 in 1980 to $8,739 in 2010.