Survey: 38% of parents have no college savings for kids

A SIGNIFICANT PORTION of parents say they have no savings for their children’s college education, according to a new survey released by Citizens Bank. / COURTESY BROWN UNIVERSITY

PROVIDENCE – A new survey commissioned by Citizens Bank found that 38% of parents have set aside no savings to pay for the college education of their children.

However, Citizens’ second annual Student Lending Survey, which queried 1,036 parents and 1,017 students, also found that 44% of parents have started to save for their kids’ college education before their 11th birthday.

“It is clear that more has to be done to help prepare students for the future – whether it is through helping them navigate paying for college or educating them on how to manage their money by establishing savings and checking accounts,” Brendan Coughlin, president of consumer deposits and lending at Providence-based Citizens, said in an announcement.

Meanwhile, 55% of parents and 56% of students report that the entire process of researching, comparing and selecting a student loan is much more difficult than they thought. Only 9% of parents, the survey found, were looking into a student loan by the time their kids were in the eighth grade.

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In addition, 66% of parents and students said paying off student loans has taken longer than they expected.

The survey found that 30% of parents said they first spoke to their children about paying for college when they were in the eighth grade or earlier, and 53% of parents said they discussed it with their kids before their freshman year in high school.

“While it is encouraging that more families are having the conversation early about the realities of paying for school, the data shows that 63% of parents still wish they had more time to navigate a difficult and confusing process,” Coughlin said.

Citizens is Rhode Island’s second-largest bank, based on market share of deposits. In addition to mobile and online banking, it operates 2,900 automated teller machines and 1,100 branch offices in 11 states.

Scott Blake is a PBN staff writer. Email him at

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