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How America Pays For College

First Posted: 02/28/11 08:40 AM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 07:35 PM ET

Despite tightening budgets and a dearth of jobs, students and their families are not cutting back on education, according to a Gallup/Sallie Mae study.

The authors of How America Pays For College 2010 (PDF) asked a nationally representative sample of 801 students and 823 parents a variety of questions on financing a college education. Although 73 percent of respondents said they had to reduce spending in order to meet tuition costs -- a figure that rose 17 percent from 2008-2009 in 2009-2010 -- 82 percent reported strongly believing that college is an investment in the future.

To finance higher education in light of such financial restraints, students and families continued to use payment methods they had in the past, including drawing from savings and turning to friends and family. Of some concern, however, is the number of people who reported paying tuition on credit. Credit.com, a site that provides information on credit cards, credit scorings and credit reporting, notes that Sallie Mae updated their study to find that 6 percent of families use credit cards to pay tuition.

Below, check out the six main ways students and their families funded their education in 2009-2010. How do you pay for college? Weigh in below.

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Filed by Danielle Wiener-Bronner  |