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New Report Details How America Pays For College

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U.S. families are scrambling to pay for the ever-rising cost of their children's college educations, a new survey shows.

Families said their spending for education rose 24 percent, on average, to $24,907 during the 2009-10 school year.The biggest chunk of money for college – 37 percent – came from parents' income and savings. Loans taken out by parents and students made up another 24 percent. Grants and scholarships contributed 23 percent of school fees, the survey said.

Parents paid for nearly half of students' college costs, whether through loans or from their savings and income. The survey showed that amid the weak economy, parents are making sacrifices to come up with the money for their children's education. Nearly a quarter said they have cut their general household spending, while about half said they have worked more hours or otherwise increased their earnings.

The report, commissioned by student loan provider Sallie Mae and conducted by pollster Gallup, surveyed about 1,600 people by telephone from March 24-May 3. About half the survey respondents were undergraduate students ages 18-24 and the other half were parents of students. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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