58% Of Parents With College-Bound Children Have Changed Their Minds and Now Plan to Apply for Financial Student Aid

72% of parents with college-bound children say they plan to fill out the FAFSA®, the first step for those looking to apply for federal student aid

An annual survey from Discover® Student Loans revealed that 58% of parents with college-bound students didn’t plan on applying for federal aid, but now have changed their minds. According to the survey, 72% of parents of college-bound children who are familiar with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®)1 plan on filling it out this fall.

“Given the uncertainties in the economy right now around inflation and fears of a recession, it’s understandable some families are feeling the impact of paying for college and reconsidering applying for federal aid. It’s encouraging to see nearly three-quarters of parents planning to complete the FAFSA since it’s the first step families need to take to apply for financial aid,” said Rich Finn, vice president of Discover Student Loans.

Despite many families opting to fill out the FAFSA, there is still a lack of awareness about when and how to complete it.

Nearly half of parents (47%) have never spoken to their child about the FAFSA or have only spoken to them about it 1-2 times, and most parents don’t know when the FAFSA opens. Only 20% of parents know that applications can be submitted starting October 1st; the majority (53%) think it’s available to fill out all year round. For parents with college-bound children with no plans to complete the FAFSA, 20% said they don’t have enough information to apply and 16% said they didn’t know they needed to fill it out.

Luckily, more parents are finding resources to help them with the FAFSA. Of parents who plan on completing FAFSA, 55% say they intend to use online FAFSA guides and resources, up five percentage points from 2021, and 36% plan to use materials sent from their child’s school, up 7 percentage points from 2021.

“Schools have different deadlines for completing the FAFSA, so families should check to ensure they are submitting it on time as many schools offer financial aid on a first-come, first-serve basis,” said Finn. “Discover Student Loans has free resources for families to use as they apply for financial aid, including College Covered, a website to help them plan and pay for college.”

Parents bear a lot of the stress of paying for college, but so do students.

The survey results found 53% of parents with college-bound kids feel that they can’t afford to pay for as much of their child’s tuition as they had planned. Additionally, 50% of parents say that price is the biggest influence on their child’s choice of school.

Over a quarter (26%) of parents said that understanding how to pay for college gives their child the most anxiety, while 34% of parents said their child gets the most anxiety from applying for scholarships, grants, loans and other forms of aid.

Discover Student Loans offers free tools and information for families to help them plan and pay for college. The FAFSA assistant tool is an interactive resource designed to support families as they prepare to fill out their FAFSA application. The tool provides personalized tips and considerations to get organized for the process. FAFSA 101 is another resource to assist families applying for financial aid that includes a downloadable guide. For families looking to compare college costs, check out potential careers and earnings of college majors, they can visit the award-winning My College Plan tool.

For more information about Discover Student Loans, please visit www.discover.com/student-loans.


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a Dynata (formerly Research Now/SSI) survey conducted on behalf of Discover Financial Services. The survey was conducted online and fielded by Dynata with a total sample size of 1,000 parents of children ages 16-18 who plan on attending college or trade school. The margin of error was 3% with a 95% confidence level.

About Discover

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is a digital banking and payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company issues the Discover® card, America's cash rewards pioneer, and offers private student loans, personal loans, home loans, checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit through its banking business. It operates the Discover Global Network® comprised of Discover Network, with millions of merchants and cash access locations; PULSE®, one of the nation's leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International®, a global payments network with acceptance around the world. For more information, visit www.discover.com/company.

1 FAFSA is a registered trademark of the U.S. Dept. of Education and is not affiliated with Discover Student Loans.


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