The Parent Worry Index

We asked thousands of parents from all over America to share their worries about college. Here we rank the top concerns and highlight resources to help parents face them with more confidence.

Seeing the price tag for college can be jarring. But take a deep breath, and keep in mind that very few parents pay the full “sticker price.” You need to find out your “net price”—the price after grants, scholarships, and other financial aid. Use our Parent Financial Planning page to learn about net price, saving, managing costs, and more.

"There is so much to do. I fear I might forget something important and miss out on an opportunity for my child.”

– Anita, parent in Florida

© 2019 The College Board | PSAT/NMSQT is a registered trademark of the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation.


The Price Tag

Parents are less worried about their child getting into a college and more about them getting into the college that is the right fit. Many factors go into fit, from location to size to price. Start the process early by building a college list. And later when you’ve narrowed your list, plan a campus visit to colleges you’re considering to get an even better feel. Our BigFuture™  website helps you search for colleges, make lists, plan visits, and more.


College Match

Two out of three parents help their child find scholarships. The good news is there are more opportunities out there than ever before and many free resources to help your search, from apps like Scholly to our own Scholarship Search tool. And every parent should check out our College Board Opportunity Scholarships, a new program that guides your child through the college planning process with a chance to earn scholarships along the way.


Finding Scholarships

Nearly 7 out of 10 college graduates in 2018 took out loans. So if you’re considering loans, you’re not alone. Our Loans page can help you make a more informed decision by guiding you through the types of loans, how the process works, and repayment options. It’s also important to remember that while loans are a big financial commitment, it’s an investment that pays off with college grads earning 66% more than high school grads on average over the course of their lives.    


Student Loan Debt

About 67% of parents help their children with test prep for their college admission tests. And with the high cost of test prep, it’s something that is particularly stressful for parents. To help, we created Official SAT Practice. It’s the best way to practice for the SAT and it’s 100% free.  



People are thinking about more factors than just academics when choosing a college. It’s great to ask schools tough questions, like “what’s your approach to campus safety?" And the earlier you start the better. A campus visit is the perfect opportunity to ask these questions. See our Campus Visit Checklist to help you make a plan.


Campus Safety

Parents are worried about their child getting into their first choice. Nearly 70% of all high schoolers today go to college, making admissions more competitive than ever. Yet with more than 4,000 colleges in the U.S., there might be many schools you’ve never considered before that are right for your child. Our Applying 101 page can help you navigate the process.     


Admissions Options

While many parents are not concerned about things like getting homesick or adjusting socially at college, many are concerned about how their child might deal with their new freedom and responsibilities. Our What to Expect page can help with the transition from high school to college. 



Applying for colleges can be challenging for parents to navigate since most colleges have different requirements and deadlines. However, there are resources to make it a little easier. Check out our College Application Process page for helpful tools and information. 


Application Process

Financial aid plays a big role in college affordability, but the process for applying for it can feel overwhelming. Start by focusing on the most important step: the FAFSA, the online application for Federal Student Aid. Millions of students who are eligible for financial aid simply never file the FAFSA. Don’t miss out. Complete it in early October of your child's senior year to maximize your opportunities for aid. 


"I'm worried about the financial burden and that I may have to sell my house." 

– Keith, parent in Texas

"It is fun to dream and plan with my daughter for her future.”

– Rebecca, parent in Washington

Based on avg. tuition and fees prices for in-state public four-year institutions

Total amount in scholarships, financial aid, and internships that can be found on College Board’s Scholarship Search website

Avg. score increase from PSAT/NMSQT® to SAT after practicing 20 hrs. on Official SAT Practice.

How much a student’s chances of enrollment increase when they go from one application to two

Avg. amount in aid that eligible students miss out on each year by not filling out the FAFSA

Financial Aid