What College Students Worry About Most
Life + Money

What College Students Worry About Most

© Noah Berger / Reuters

Millions of prospective college students are on edge this month, as they eagerly await the results of their college applications.

The biggest driver of stress around college admissions, however, is no longer about whether they’ll get into their top school. These days, it’s about how much debt they’ll need to take on to attend. Nearly four in 10 students and parents polled in a new Princeton Review study cited debt levels as their biggest concern.

Related: The Most Expensive College in America

Among those surveyed, more than three-quarters said that they’re experiencing high stress levels during the college admissions process. That’s a 20 percent increase from when Princeton Review started this survey 15 years ago.

Rising tuition costs and debt levels no doubt have something to do with that stress. Among those surveyed, 85 percent estimated their degree would cost more than $50,000, and 98 percent said that financial aid would be necessary.

More than 44 million Americans now have student loan debt, totaling a collective $1.31 trillion.

Still, nearly everyone surveyed (99 percent) by Princeton Review said that college would be worth the investment. Among those surveyed, 42 percent said that the biggest benefit of the degree was the potential for a better job and higher wages, while a third cited the exposure to new ideas.

Both parents and students selected Stanford University the number one “dream school” for the fifth year in a row. Student’s top three choices also included Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, while parents’ runner ups were Princeton and Harvard.