Sixty-three percent of parents and 60% of students said they wished they had looked into college financing options earlier, the survey said.
Only 9% were looking into loan options when their kids were in the eighth grade, the report noted.
But parents and students indicated that the entire process was difficult to navigate. More than half of parents (55%) and students (56%) said researching, comparing and selecting student loans was more difficult than they thought it would be. Sixty-six percent of both parents and students agree that paying off student loans has taken longer than they expected.
“It’s clear that more has to be done to help prepare students for the future—whether it is through helping them navigate paying for college or educating them on how to manage their money by establishing savings and checking accounts,” Brendan Coughlin, president of Consumer Deposits and Lending at Citizens Bank, said in a prepared statement.
The survey found that 44% of parents have started to save for their kid’s college education before their child’s 11th birthday, while 38% report setting aside no savings at all.
It also showed that families, overall, are still paying for college through a combination of different sources that include income and savings, and also both Federal and private student loans.
The survey also suggested that students are looking more closely at the long-term impact of student debt. Fifty percent of students were less likely than their parents (57%) to agree that the cost of college was worth it.
A smaller percentage of students than parents—51% versus 58%—believe that parents should help their children pay for college.