The parents of college students are paying for skyrocketingtuitions with money that would otherwise go to their ownretirements.

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That’s according to T. Rowe Price’s “Family Financial Trade-offsSurvey,” which polled 2,000 parents nationwide with a retirementaccount and children ages 15 or younger.

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Fifty-two percent of the parents polled said that it was moreimportant to save for their children’s college than it was fortheir own personal retirements.

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Fifty-three percent of parents agreed that they would rathertake money from their own retirements than have their children takeon student loans. Awareness of the impact student debt can have onthe ability to live comfortably may contribute to this, as 44percent of parents who themselves took out loans to pay for collegesaid that those loans negatively impacted their ability to save forretirement.

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In fact, many would rather take on the debt themselves than havetheir children do so. Fifty-two percent said that they would bewilling to take on $25,000 or more in debt to pay for their kids’education, 23 percent said they would take on over $75,000, and 9percent said they would borrow whatever it takes.

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Sixty-three percent said they felt guilty about not being ableto cover more of their children’s college costs, and 58 percentagreed with the dismal statement, “I sometimes feel like a failurebecause I am not providing enough for my family and ourfuture.”

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Despite the potentially negative consequences of usingretirement accounts as savings accounts, 30 percent of respondentsadmitted to using their 401(k)s to save for their kids’ collegeexpenses. Twenty-nine percent were not familiar with 529 accounts,with 15 percent mistakenly believing that it would be a bar toreceiving financial aid, while 20 percent were not familiar withROTH IRAs.

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Concerns over college debt and its impact disproportionatelyaffected millennials and their parents in comparison to previousgenerations. The study further reported that:

  • Sixty-eight percent of millennials report being overwhelmed byfinancial pressures as opposed to 58 percent of GenerationXers.

  • Seventy percent of millennials who took out loans for schoolthink they took out too much, as opposed to 55 percent ofGeneration Xers.

  • Eighteen percent of millennials whose parents helped to pay forcollege said that their parents had taken money out of a retirementaccount to cover the costs, whereas only 9 percent of GenerationXers in the same situation said their parents did thesame.

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