Many Middle School Parents Unprepared for Children's College Education, Report Finds

Many Middle School Parents Unprepared for Children's College Education, Report Finds

While 87 percent of parents expect their children to go to college, nearly half of middle school parents have not started planning for college and nearly two-thirds have not started saving, a new study from the Institute for Higher Education Policy finds.

Funded by the Sallie Mae Fund, the report, From Aspirations to Action: The Role of Middle School Parents in Making the Dream of College a Reality (43 pages, PDF), finds that less than 1 percent of parents do not expect their children to go to college and that 75 percent believe a college degree is necessary to get ahead in today's world. However, more than 45 percent have not taken any college planning action by the time their children are in middle school, and fewer than 20 percent have taken steps such as researching colleges, meeting with teachers or counselors, and looking into the college admissions process.

Based on a national survey of eighteen hundred parents of sixth- through eighth-graders, the report encourages the participation of families and schools as well as government and the private sector to in the college planning process. Among other things, it recommends that parents become educated about their financial choices, that schools and counselors reach out to parents and students to explain which courses are necessary for college, and that Congress support legislation to improve the education of middle school students in low-performing schools. In response to the research, the Sallie Mae Fund will expand its Kids to College program, which pairs sixth-grade students with area colleges and universities to help them set their sights on a college education.

"Whether your child is in middle school, in high school, or preschool, it's never too early or too late to start preparing for college — financially and otherwise," said Kathleen deLaski, president of the fund. "Even if your child is entering high school, by putting aside $100 a month, you could save enough for the first-year tuition at many public universities."

To download highlights from the study, visit the Sallie Mae Fund Web site.