Parents fear effect of college costs on retirementNews added by Benefits Pro on August 28, 2014

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By Marlene Y. Satter

Student loan debt, at the crushing total of $1.11 trillion, is taking a heavy toll on what once might have been an unlikely group: parents.

According to a survey from Citizens Financial Group, 94 percent of parents who have a child in college feel the weight of that debt, although nearly half have not figured out a plan to pay for it and 70 percent are afraid that it will turn out to be an investment that does not pay off.

Also read: Grandparents helping with college costs, again

They’re worried about the effect of all that tuition on their own financial situation. Among parents with a child in college, 55 feel that the money they’re spending on college tuition and fees will hurt their own financial stability. Sixty-one percent of all parents, whether their child is in college or not, feel the same way.

And retirement? Fifty-four percent of parents whose child is in college say that college costs will endanger their own retirement. Parents of those 15-17 years old are even more worried; 64 percent of them fear that college costs will keep them from retiring on schedule.

Considering that 59 percent of parents of 15-17-year-olds say their child will attend college but need student loans, and another 12 percent said their child in that age bracket was already attending college and may need student loans in the future, the outlook seems grim if parents and children can’t figure out ways to pay for the expense. Parents of students in that age group are also particularly concerned about the rising cost of college, with 90 percent weighing in.

The good news is that 63 percent of college students have a plan to pay for their student loan debt. However, while 71 percent of college students say that a student’s choice of college should depend on what they can afford, the reality is that students don’t base their choices only on the expense.

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