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Survey Shows High College Costs Concern American Families

The rising cost of college has families thinking hard about how to pay for it—and teens are stepping up to do their part.

A survey released Monday by TD Ameritrade found that 66 percent of teens today are saving for college, up from 62 percent in 2009. Just 46 percent of adults said they did the same when they were teenagers. The majority of adults (57 percent) recalled saving their money for clothing and accessories when they were teens, while 66 percent of teens today report saving their money for all or part of their college expenses.

Still, having enough money to meet the high cost of college is a challenge. About 36 percent of the teenagers who responded to the survey conducted for Ameritrade said they would consider delaying or abandoning college because of the expense, compared to 31 percent a year ago. More than half of today's teens (54 percent) also report that while they are interested in saving for college, they don't know how to get started.

The survey showed that 78 percent of teenagers would be willing to establish a plan that includes them and their parents splitting the cost of higher education, compared to just 41 percent of adults who reported doing the same when they were teens.

When asked about the value of an education from a "big name" college such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or Northwestern, 13 percent of teens today reported the tuition is not worth it because the name does not guarantee employment, compared to 20 percent of adults who reported the same.

Infogroup conducted the random phone survey of 772 adults and 363 teenagers in July for TD Ameritrade. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points for adults and plus or minus 5 percentage points for teens.

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