WASHINGTON, July 23 (UPI) -- Parents are funding less of their students' college expenses, with "free" money filling some of the gap, a study of how America pays for college indicates.
Eighty-five percent of parents -- a higher percentage of parents than in previous years -- expressed an unwavering belief that college is an investment in their child's future, the study by Sallie Mae released Tuesday indicated.
Ninety-two percent of families say they're confident their students will earn a bachelor's degree in five years or fewer.
The study found parents' out-of-pocket spending has decreased 35 percent since 2010. Parents' average out-of-pocket spending in 2013 was $5,727, down from $8,752.
The average family is spending less on college, Sallie Mae said. For academic year 2012-13, the average was $21,179 compared to $24,097 in academic year 2009-10.
Students fund more of the college bill through borrowing and savings and/or income than they did five years ago, Sallie Mae said.
The study of 1,602 undergraduates and parents of undergraduates indicated grants and scholarships -- so-called free money -- are used more than any other type of funding, accounting for 30 percent of total college costs for a typical family.
"The post-recession reality is [parents] don't have the income and savings," Sarah Ducich, senior vice president of public policy at Sallie Mae, said in a USA Today article. "It's not that they're not willing to stretch. It's that they don't think they have the money to do that."
Families also want the most bang for their educational buck, the survey indicated. Sixty-seven percent of families eliminated schools based on cost. The survey indicated 57 percent of students live at home and 27 percent accelerated their coursework.