Most Families Lack a Plan to Pay for College, Survey Finds

Parents are optimistic that they’ll meet their college-savings goals, but many of them are not on track to do so, according to a report released on Tuesday by Sallie Mae, the student-loan and financial-services company.

Families that are saving for college plan to put aside an average of $39,000 per child, according to the report, “How America Saves for College 2013,” which draws on survey results. Seventy percent of families that had set a specific goal said they expected to meet it.

But according to the report’s projections, they are being unrealistic. The report took what each family said it had saved so far per child, added that amount to what the family saved last year, and multiplied the sum by the number of years until the child turns 18. Sallie Mae found that the average family will have saved just under $20,000.

While a majority of families saw college as an investment in their children’s future, just 38 said they had made a plan for how they might cover the whole cost of their children’s education.

The report is based on a survey of 1,621 parents of children under age 18, and was conducted in August 2012.

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