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Jul 11, 2014 01:19 PM EDT

New Survey Finds a Decline in Percentage of Parents Who Help Their Child Pay for College

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Many U.S. parents agree with recent studies that suggest college degrees are still worth the investment, but students are getting less financial help from their families.

According to CNN Money, a new study from Discover Student Loans has found 77 percent of parents were planning to pay for their child's college education. Based on a survey of 1,000 adults, the study showed a downward trend from 81 percent last year.

Just less than three quarters of U.S. families answered "very" or "somewhat" when asked how concerned they were about helping financially with college. Unsurprisingly, students have turned to taking out student loans to pay for school.

According to data from the College Board, tuition at public four-year universities for in-state students is $18,390 and each borrower's average debt total was $29,400. Past studies have also shown that students are not likely to stop depending on loans to pay for college any time soon.

The Discover Student Loans study also showed that 15 percent of parents expected their child to pay for their own education, up from 12 percent a year ago. 32 percent of parents said their child should cover "most" of the cost, up from 27 percent.

"As students prepare to enter college this fall, it's important for parents to have clear and honest discussions with their children about how they'll pay for college," Danny Ray, president of Discover Student Loans, said in a statement. "Students need to understand the financial responsibilities they take on and, more importantly, who is responsible for repayment of loans upon graduation."

Fox Business reported 52 percent of parents are likely to help their child repay their loans; 24 percent answered "very" likely and 28 percent answered "somewhat" likely.

"Make sure you exhaust and search for free money," Ray said. "Do your homework; understand cost and funding options-in some cases a private loan can be less expensive than a federal loan. Day in and day out families aren't putting in as much energy to explore college attendance options. The better you do, the better equipped you will be to make a smart decision for your family."

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