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Parents Have High Expectations for Higher Education

September 8, 2009

According to the Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey of the 2007 National Household Education Surveys Program, 40 percent of parents of students in grades 6 through 12 expect their children to finish a four- or five-year college degree. Another 30 percent expect their children to earn a graduate or professional degree.

When the data are broken down by student's race/ethnicity, white, non-Hispanic students have a relatively high number of parents (44 percent) who expect them to finish a four- or five-year college degree. In comparison, 30 percent of black, non-Hispanic students have parents with the same expectations.

Overall, four out of five students (81%) in grades 6 to 12 have parents who say they plan to help pay for the student's education after high school. This percentage differs considerably among race/ethnic groups. Among white, non-Hispanic students, 86 percent have parents willing to assist with the costs of higher education, compared to 74 percent of black, non-Hispanic students and 70 percent of Hispanic students.

Willingness to pay for the student's education after high school also fluctuated among parents with different levels of education. More than half (56%) of students had parents whose education level was less than a high school degree and planned to pay for their child's higher education, compared to 72 percent of students whose parents had a high school degree and a willingness to pay. The highest percentage (94%) is reported for students whose parents earned a graduate or professional degree.

Because these numbers date from 2007, the percentages of parents who expect high levels of education for their children-and plan to pay for it-might have changed with the current recession.

The Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey addresses many topics, including school choice, homeschooling, family involvement, and child health and disability status. For more information, please visit the NCES website.