Survey sheds light on who exactly is paying for college

LendEDU study of to what level students are responsible for covering the costs of their postsecondary education
By: | April 12, 2019
College and university leaders can create a diverse and inclusive campus by re-examining data that shows who is paying for college.College and university leaders can create a diverse and inclusive campus by re-examining data that shows who is paying for college.

The overall statistics for student loan debt may be alarming, but it’s important for higher ed administrators to understand who is responsible for paying for college and, accordingly, paying back loans. Forty-five million borrowers collectively owe $1.52 trillion in student debt.

LendEDU’s new “Who Pays for College?” report explores the demographics of college payment trends for a clearer representation of the oft-quoted student debt stat.

Of 13,000 surveyed students, 29 percent report they are taking on the entirety of their college debt. This responsibility is generally higher for students of color: 36 percent of surveyed Native American students indicated that they were responsible for the entire cost of college; 32 percent of participating black and Hispanic or Latino respondents reported the same.


Related: Student loan counseling: Time for a refresh


College and university leaders wanting to create a truly diverse and inclusive campus may want to re-examine admissions processes by looking at who is paying for college. “Schools should be open to the fact that these racial groups are often struggling with a lot more responsibility than other applicant groups,” says Mike Brown, survey researcher. Making more scholarships and Pell Grant money available to these particular demographics can help students to get into college, and then make it easier to pay back their debts.

Middle Eastern respondents were the most unlikely to pay for any of their college education (48 percent), and Asian participants reported the same (45 percent).
Just over half of international students overall indicated that they had no responsibility for paying college costs. This is likely because many of these students come from well-off families if they’re considering a full-price degree in another country, says Brown.