"Unhappy College Grad", via Stockphoto4u, ThinkStock.
"Unhappy College Grad", via Stockphoto4u, ThinkStock.
“Unhappy College Grad”, via Stockphoto4u, ThinkStock.

Part of the problem with Americans’ insane amount of student loan debt is how many young adults get these loans without really grasping how much they will cost. More often than not, college-bound borrowers don’t have experience budgeting all the expenses that come after college, so it’s understandably difficult to comprehend how a $30,000 annual tuition bill will translate into post-graduate finances. Parents, who have that budgeting experience, would seem to have a better understanding of what all the numbers mean.

Despite that knowledge, parents were much less likely to eliminate a school from their kids’ lists of potential colleges because of cost than the students were, according to an annual survey from Sallie Mae. The 2015 How America Pays for College report includes data from April 2015 phone calls with 800 undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 24 and 800 parents of undergraduate students of the same age. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

Among those surveyed, 50% of parents eliminated prospective colleges because of cost, but the practice was much more common among students: 74% took colleges off their lists for money reasons. Parents, in general, were a bit less worried about the financial aspects of going to college than they had been in recent years. For example, only 13% of parents worried that their kids won’t be able to find jobs after graduation, compared to the 27% of parents who said that last year.

There’s more to choosing a college than looking at tuition prices, but it’s a huge factor in whether or not your education will be valuable in the future. Even if you come away with a bachelor’s degree, a good job and great experiences, academic and otherwise, those benefits may be overshadowed by a mountain of debt that strains your monthly budget and prevents you from reaching financial and other life goals. In that regard, it’s probably a good thing so many students realize that cost is a good reason to not go to a certain school.

Going to college doesn’t require taking on an enormous amount of debt. Getting through it without loans is ideal, but borrowing money can be a great investment and even a credit builder, if done carefully. Here are some tips on how to pay for college without damaging your financial health. If you want to see how your student loans are impacting your credit, you can check your free credit report summary on Credit.com.

This article originally appeared on Credit.com and was written by Christine DiGangi.