Kaplan Test Prep and MONEY Survey: Many Parents and High School Counselors Question the Value-for-Cost of College

Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of The Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC)

Press Contacts: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 212.453.7538
Twitter @KapTestNews, @KaplanSATACT

New York, NY (December 7, 2015) — With the average annual sticker price of college hitting $19,548 for in-state public college and $43,921 for private college, joint research from Kaplan Test Prep and MONEY magazine conducted among both parents and high school counselors finds that many aren’t convinced about the value-for-cost of college today. According to the Kaplan/MONEY survey of over 500 parents of prospective college students, just 21% agree that “the cost of a four-year college degree today is clearly justified for the value it delivers.”* Fifty-eight percent disagree, while 21% aren’t sure if the value is worth the cost. In a separate survey conducted among 235 high school counselors, 37% feel strongly that “the cost of a four-year college degree today is justified for the value it delivers.”**

A reason behind the reservations about value-for-cost may be the immediacy of the financial pressures college costs bring — in the same survey of parents, 60% say that thinking about how to save for college is “more daunting” than thinking about retirement. In fact, data shows long-term value in significantly higher lifetime earnings and lower unemployment of college graduates. According to a 2014 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, those with a bachelor’s degree earn about $1 million more than high school graduates during their careers, while data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the 2014 unemployment rate of college graduates to be almost half that of high school graduates (3.5% versus 6%).

“We know from talking to parents and high school counselors that the takeaway isn’t that they don’t believe in the value of a college degree — they’re really concerned about the high sticker price. This is understandable since for many, it’s a hefty investment that brings immediate debt but not necessarily immediate return,” says Michael Boothroyd, executive director of college admissions programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “But it’s important to recognize that college is a long-term investment that realizes itself over time — not only in higher income potential and lower unemployment rates, but also through other benefits such as making connections, fostering intellectual and social development, and broadening perspectives.”

Ironically, for a majority of counselors, understanding the value of a college degree is an infrequent topic of discussion raised by parents: just 12% of high school counselors say that it is a topic of discussion that “always” comes up with parents, though another 30% say it “often” comes up. By contrast, 22% say the topic “rarely” comes up; and 4% say it “never” comes up. A third (32%) said it only comes up “sometimes.”

“The cost of college can seem intimidating, but the last thing parents and students should do is despair and give up,” says Greg Daugherty, education editor at MONEY. “There are many top-notch colleges that provide generous financial aid packages, help students graduate with little or no debt, and launch them into successful and productive careers.”

For more information about Kaplan and MONEY’s survey, contact Russell Schaffer at 212.453.7538 or russell.schaffer@kaplan.com.

*The Kaplan/MONEY magazine e-survey was conducted in October 2015 and includes responses from 539 parents of prospective college students, between the ages of 15 and 18.

**The Kaplan/MONEY magazine e-survey was conducted in October 2015 and includes responses from 235 high school counselors.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 90 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services. Additionally, Kaplan operates new economy skills training (NEST) bootcamps designed to provide immersive training in skills that are in high demand in today’s job market and prepare participants for hire.


MONEY (www.money.com), published by Time Inc., is America’s leading source of personal finance advice, with a readership of nearly 7 million. Among its popular features is “The Best Colleges for Your Money,” an annual list of four-year schools that deliver great value, published each August in print and online. To expand its college coverage, MONEY recently launched the MONEY College Planner, a special website devoted to helping parents choose the best schools for their students and their wallets, along with expert advice on saving, investing, borrowing, and paying for college.

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