FORT WORTH, TX – August 14, 2018 – College tuition costs burden millions of American families each year and force many to seek financial assistance, including student loans. For non-prime students and their families, resources rarely exist to attend college without outside help – 90% must rely on some form of financial assistance. A new study released today by Elevate’s Center for the New Middle Class (CNMC) compares the college expense burden between prime and non-prime Americans – those with credit scores of less than 700. 


Children of non-prime parents are significantly less likely to finish college when they don’t take out student loans. Given that they have witnessed credit troubles in their own families, these students must make an enormous decision: whether to saddle themselves with debt or fail to earn a college degree. “We often hear a lot about the rising student loan problem, but the decision is much more acute for children of non-prime parents for two key reasons: they have already felt the stress of financial insecurity and debt, and financial aid is far more crucial to their ability to finish college,” said Jonathan Walker, CNMC’s executive director.


Key findings from the CNMC survey based on college enrollment for fall 2018:

  • 90% of non-prime students utilize financial aid
  • 57% of non-prime parents carry more debt than they would like
  • 72% of non-prime parents believe college will provide their child better opportunities
  • Non-prime students are 15% less likely to receive merit-based assistance
  • Non-prime students are 19% more likely to attend a community college
  • Non-prime students are significantly less likely to reach their third and fourth years of college unless they utilize student loans
  • Non-prime students are 25% more likely to have decided on a college based on financial aid
  • Non-prime parents are 3x more likely to run out of money every month

 “Frugality is a must for non-prime students,” said Walker. “Our research indicates they are significantly more likely to live at home and attend public or community colleges when compared with their prime peers. We take this as an indicator that non-prime households do work to budget for college expenses. These families place emphasis on education, as nearly three quarters indicated a college education will lead to better opportunities.”


A student’s future may be adversely affected by financial challenges that have hurt their parents’ credit. “A lot of things out of a person’s control can hurt their credit: job loss, health problems, misfortune. Whatever those problems are, they are never the child’s fault.” Walker says. “This research suggests that the negative effect of those credit problems may actually reverberate into the next generation.”


About the Research

The Center’s research compared the responses of 1,019 Americans with prime (n=505) and non-prime (n=514) credit scores using interviews conducted June 14-20, 2018. For details of the study, click here.


About Elevate’s Center for the New Middle Class

Elevate’s Center for the New Middle Class conducts research, engages in dialogue, and builds cooperation to generate understanding of the behaviors, attitudes, and challenges of America’s growing “New Middle Class.” For more information, visit:


Investor Relations:
Solebury Communications
Sloan Bohlen

P: 817-928-1646




Media Inquiries:


Ishviene Arora

P: 917 765 8720