Survey Finds 1 in 3 Parents Used Their Kids’ College Fund for Medical Payments, Gambling, or Other Purposes

Although 98 percent of parents want their kids to attend college, many are falling behind on maintaining or starting a college fund, a trusted resource for online degree rankings and higher education planning, has published a survey report examining how many American parents are saving for college. The research also highlights main reasons parents fall behind or withdraw from college funds. Experts surveyed 1,001 parents with at least one child under 18 years old.

The study shows 33 percent of parents have used college savings for noneducational purposes. Of these parents, 59 percent say they used college funds for essential purchases. Additionally, 57 percent used their college savings for medical expenses, 45 percent used it to make mortgage or rent payments, and 32 percent of parents admit to using funds for non-essential purchases or gambling. 

According to the survey, 45 percent of parents have not started saving for college, and 13 percent don’t plan to save at all. Political affiliation also influences why parents are not saving for college. Nearly half of Republican parents who don’t plan to save want their child to pay for their own education. In comparison, 11 percent of Democrats who aren’t saving expect their child to pay college tuition, and 30 percent believe government student loans will be forgiven. 

Write-in answers from respondents also indicate that many parents are struggling financially and saving for college is not a feasible option. Four percent of respondents are no longer contributing to a college fund, which half say is because they are not in a financial position to do so. Correspondingly, 10 percent say their child will no longer attend college. commissioned and administered this study via the online survey platform Pollfish. The survey was conducted on September 28, 2022, and all data found within this report derives from the survey. Appropriate respondents were selected using Pollfish’s demographic tools and a screening question. To access the complete report, please visit

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