MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In just a few weeks, students will be heading back to college. As parents know well, along with that higher education, comes a huge price tag. According to Sallie Mae, the average American family will spend $24,164 this year on undergraduate college for 18-24 year olds. For four-year private institution, that number jumps to $41,875. For a two-year public college, it’s $13,531.

So, how do we pay for college?

Ranea Hester, a first-year student at MCTC, said he’s using a combination of scholarships, grants and income from his job with Hennepin County.

“I’m going to try and avoid student loans until I know I need it,” he said.

Parents pick up the biggest share of the cost at 32 percent followed by scholarships/grants at 30 percent.

The National Center for Education Statistics estimates the average scholarship/grant award for a first-year undergraduate is $5,000 for a two-year college and $10,000 for a four-year college.

Twenty-two percent of college funding comes from loans taken out by parents and students. According to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, 71 percent of undergraduate students leave school with some of kind debt. The average amount of debt is right around $30,000. A Sallie Mae report find less than one percent of undergraduate students graduate with debt in the six figures.

Students contribute 11 percent of their college funding. Almost three-quarters of college students report working. Other relatives and friends round out the final five percent.

Heather Brown