Rising tuition fees and the uncertain state of the economy are causing more people to put their own retirement savings ahead of their children’s college education.

A new survey from Country Financial found that the number of Americans who think college is a good financial investment plunged to 64 percent, down 16 points from last year and 17 points from 2008.

The sentiment about higher education coincides with a shift in saving priorities. In a reversal from last year, most Americans say their own retirement (43 percent) is more important than saving for their child's college (41 percent). Those who picked retirement first increased two points from last year, while those who say their child's education is the top priority dropped 6 points. Those who say they are unsure about what's more important increased four points to 17 percent.

Nearly one-third (31 percent) of Americans borrowed money to pay for their education, 64 percent of whom have completed paying off their loans. Further, of those who borrowed, half say it had little to no impact on other life decisions like marriage or buying a home.

Twenty-eight percent say it had somewhat of an impact and 20 percent say it had a large impact.

Forty percent of those in the 18-29 age group say education loans had a significant impact on other life decisions, at least 24 points above all other age groups surveyed. A majority (65 percent) of Americans say parents should be responsible for paying part of their child's college education. Eighteen percent believe parents should foot the entire bill, while 13 percent thinks parents should not pay for any college costs.

Younger Americans ages 18-29 were most likely to say parents shouldn't have to finance any of the costs of higher education for their kids (15 percent).

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access