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News Release

Visa Survey Finds that Parents are Primary Source for College Funding, Government Grants Second

San Francisco, Cincinnati, New York & Austin
Report Highest Percentage of Parents Footing College Bill;
Scholarships were tops in Miami, Philadelphia and Orlando

San Francisco, CA - February 26, 2009 - As high school seniors anxiously watch their mailboxes and email this week for acceptance letters from colleges, a consumer survey conducted by Visa Inc. shows that almost a quarter (23%) of Americans cite their parents as the primary source of funding for college tuition, room and board. This was followed by government grants (15%), government backed loans (14%), jobs (11%) and academic/sports scholarships (10%) respectively.

Additionally, Visa surveys in seventeen regional markets found that San Francisco (24%), Cincinnati (24%), New York City (23%) and Austin (23%) had the highest number of respondents saying that parents were their number one college funding source.

Sports and academic scholarships were the top college funding source for respondents in Miami (21%), Philadelphia (17%) and Orlando (16%). Government grants were the top funding choice for consumers surveyed in San Antonio (20%), Springfield, Missouri (18%) and Springfield, Illinois (18%).

College tuition and fees can be over $30,000 a year in some cases and according to a 2008 report by the College Board, "over the past decade, published tuition and fees have risen at an average rate of 4.2% per year after inflation at public four-year institutions."

"How to pay for college is not a conversation parents want to have while driving their child to freshman orientation," said Jason Alderman, Director of Financial Education at Visa Inc. "With parents continuing to play such a major role in paying for their children’s education, it is crucial that the planning and saving for this major expense begin as early as possible."

Visa’s surveys asked the question: "What was the primary source of funding used to pay for tuition, room and board?" The question was asked of those who either attended college or have children who attended college in the past five years.

1Source: College Board’s Trends in College Pricing 2008

Primary Source of Funding (National)Percentage
Parents 23%
Government grants 15%
Government backed loans 14%
Job 11%
Other 11%
Academic / sports scholarship 10%
Academic / sports scholarship 9%
Bank / credit union loans 7%

The chart below shows the primary source of college funding of respondents in 17 regions and the percentage picking this source.

"How much, in total, would you estimate you will spend on food, beverages and other items?"
CityPrimary Source of FundingPercentage
San Francisco, CA Parents24%
Cincinnati, OH Parents24%
National Parents23%
New York, NYParents23%
Austin, TXParents23%
Washington, D.C. Parents21%
Baltimore, MDParents & job (tie)19%
Charlotte, NCParents 19%
Chicago, ILParents19%
Pittsburgh, PAParents18%
Vermont Parents17%
Miami, FLScholarships21%
Philadelphia, PAScholarships17%
Orlando, FLScholarships16%
San Antonio, TX Government grants20%
Springfield, MOGovernment grants18%
Springfield, ILGovernment grants18%
Los Angeles, CAJob18%

To help consumers of all ages better manage their money, Visa offers Practical Money Skills for Life (, a free, comprehensive financial education program that is available in English, Spanish and Chinese. It contains a number of interactive budgeting calculators, including one for college savings. The program also features money-management tips and advice for a number of life changing financial events, including paying for college tuition.

Visa also runs What's My Score (, a leading higher education consumer awareness program that guides college students through the ABC's of a FICO credit score, from factors that can lower a score to ways on improving it, at no charge.

Visa’s national survey was of 1,000 consumers, 18 and older, by phone. The survey had had an overall margin of error of +/-3.1%. Visa also conducted 17 regional surveys in key cities. These 17 regional surveys were conducted among 400 consumers, 18 and older, in each region. The regional surveys have a 4.9% margin of error.

About Visa Inc.
Visa Inc. operates the world's largest retail electronic payments network providing processing services and payment product platforms. This includes consumer credit, debit, prepaid and commercial payments, which are offered under the Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink and PLUS brands. Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the world, and Visa/PLUS is one of the world's largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in more than 170 countries. For more information, visit

Contacts: Angela Waugaman, CRC Public Relations, Tel: +1 703-683-5004, ext. 133, Steve Burke, CRC Public Relations, Tel: +1 703-683-5004, ext. 108

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