Paying for College

Prom Planning Beats College Costs Planning

A survey conducted by Sallie Mae released yesterday revealed several surprising, if not shocking, statistics on how serious high-school seniors take paying for college. The survey, which compared their prom decisions to their financial loan decisions discovered about half of senior girls and senior boys spent more time planning for their senior prom (such as picking out their attire or deciding who to ask to the big event), than planning on how they will pay for college. First things first, I guess.

The survey's main implication is that, on average, girls and boys spend $200 or less on their prom, but the average annual college price tag is $17,000. Here are some more details about the survey:


About half of senior girls (58%) shopped for two or more weeks to pick out their dream dress for prom and half of senior boys spent two or more two weeks deciding whom to ask for the big event. But when it comes to college, nearly half (43%) of high school seniors spent less than five hours learning how to pay for it.

The survey indicates that most girls (60%) expect to spend $200 or less for their dress and most boys (47%) saved $200 or less for their prom expenses—a fraction of the average $17,000 price tag for college.

High school girls were about twice as likely (48%) to shop four or more stores prior to purchasing their prom dress than they were to visit four or more financial websites (26%) to learn about college student payment and loan options.

Sixteen percent of boys visited four or more college financial websites.

Girls’ parents are much more likely to cover prom expenses than parents of boys. In fact, 64 percent of girls said their parents would pay for three-quarters or more of the cost of their prom dress, compared to 27 percent of boys who indicated their parents will pay the same proportion of prom expenses.

Girls are also more likely than boys to look to parents to pay for college costs. One-third (31%) of high-school senior girls responded that their parents will likely to pay for three-quarters or more of their college tuition, compared to 23 percent of high-school senior boys.

While many high seniors have not yet spent much time discussing how to pay for college, the vast majority of high school seniors, 76 percent of girls and 64 percent of boys, spent more than one month selecting the college they will attend.

For more information about this surprising survey, look here.

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