Picking college, major, comes down to money

Lauren Williams's picture

The financial burden of paying for college has families cost-cutting before their kids even apply to schools. And it's affecting students' decisions about not only where to go, but what to study, according to survey data given exclusively to USA TODAY.

The survey by Discover Student Loans, to be released Thursday, found that nearly half of adults are limiting their child's college choices based on price. And with rising student loan debt and a job market that continues to greet college grads with not-so-open arms, the ability to find employment has become a top factor in deciding what to study. The number of adults who say earning potential is more important to their child's education than what they major in is up, at 42% vs. 38% last year, the survey shows.

Discover Student Loans surveyed 1,000 adults with college-bound children ages 16 to 18.

The economic downturn, along with steadily rising tuition and student loan debt, has pushed the conversation about affordability to the beginning of the college application process, says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the Edvisors Network of websites about planning and paying for college.

Read more