Nearly five times as many parents (61% compared to 13%) would prefer relatives and friends to give their children money toward college fees instead of gifts of toys, according to a survey by US-based college savings reward programme operator Little Grad.
The survey examined the opinions of parents and grandparents on various issues such as sharing household tasks, college savings habits, and aspirations for their children and grandchildren.
Regarding college funding efforts, parents generally felt that this is a responsibility shared almost equally, with 31% of mothers handling it on their own, 26% of fathers managing it unaided, and 26% of parents doing so together. Perhaps worryingly, though, 9% of families reported that no one was handling the task of saving for their childrens' college education.
Praise for mothers
The survey also noted the significant role played by mothers in the average American household: 54% of mothers handle bill payments and do the majority of household chores on their own. In many households it is also the mother who handles tasks such as essential shopping (61% of mothers, compared to 7% of fathers), cooking (49% to 18%), childcare (40% to 7%) and cleaning (36% to 8%).
Other interesting results from Little Grad's survey included:
- Grandparents help drive college savings for families, with nearly 60% of parents reporting that grandparents had either started a college savings account for their child, or contributed to one.
- During the school year, parents worry most about saving for college (16.4%) and finding time to help their kids with schoolwork (22.9%).
- One in five families has outside help with household cleaning (21%).
According to Little Grad's CEO (and mother of two), Anh Vazquez, "The survey confirms how important saving for college is for parents and grandparents. Financial experts urge parents to begin saving for their child's college education early on, but most struggle to do so. Enlisting family and friends to join and contribute rebates from their purchases as well, makes saving for college a family effort which really adds up over time."
Little Grad's programme collects cash-back rebates offered by its network of over 1,300 online retailers, and deposits that money directly into the member's college savings account. The average Little Grad member has two other family members contributing rebates to a child's college savings account, and saves approximately US$300 each year (in addition to their own direct contributions to the college fund).
Among the rebates offered by Little Grad's network of partnering retailers:
- Omnis Network web hosting (65%)
- Zappos (10%)
- 1-800-Flowers (10%)
- Shutterfly (6%)
- Target (4%)
- WalMart.com (4%)
- Nordstrom (4%)
- Staples.com (3%)
- Gap (3%)
- Barnes & Noble (3%)
- Expedia (1%)
- Travelocity (1%)
- eBay (US$0.25 per transaction)
The grandparents' view
Even though the number of grandparents taking the survey was too small to draw any statistically significant conclusions, the results are still interesting. For example, the survey question measuring grandparents' hopes for their grandchildren's future, based on a scale of one to five (with one being most important and five being least important), found that health (1.29) and college (1.93) are twice as important than wealth (4.54) to them.
Grandparents also rated their grandchildren getting a good education (1.93) far above marriage and having a family of their own (3.62). Grandparents also felt that a college education (1.93) is twice as important for their grandchildren as athleticism (3.46).