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Fewer parents paying for students' college education

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TYLER (CNN) - The start of a new school year might be a good time to revisit how to pay for your college education. Whether you need to save more, or you're not saving at all, you're not alone.

Student lender Sallie Mae recently came out with a survey showing students are mostly using grants and scholarships to help pay for college now.

"I don't think I could afford it. My scholarship has been my backbone, and then I've had to take out loans on top of that to pay for everything else."

Biology major Brittnee Cagel is like many college students- she's not getting a free ride from her parents for her degree.

"I'm actually paying them back." she says. "I'm on a loaning system with my parents just because they couldn't really afford to do that."

Sallie Mae found only half of families are actively saving for higher education now. The other half cite reasons such as not having enough extra income, or other financial priorities.

"I try to save money wherever I can." says student Destani Anderson.

She uses scholarships, grants and loans to pay for college.

"You cannot be lazy at all if you want to go to college."

She says taking some initiative pays off.

"Just apply for every scholarship that becomes available to you because they're really helpful paying for books, just little things..."

Accounting major Tiarra Cox knows firsthand how quickly college expenses add up.

"It's $10,000 a semester," she says. "If I did not have financial aid, I would not be in school at all. But, it's worth it because you get a good education and you get out with a degree."

And if you do have parents paying your way through college...

"You are very, very lucky." says Cagel. "I hope you don't disrespect your parents or your family ever because some families wish, wish that they could do that and they can't."

The solutions to paying for college don't end with a diploma. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says about 25% of U.S. workers are in public sector jobs that could be eligible for some sort of student loan forgiveness, including teachers, librarians, law enforcement, nurses and more.

Any amount of savings is a step in the right direction. Financial experts say simple steps like making savings automatic, either with a direct payroll deduction into a college fund, or sending money from a checking account right to savings is also a good idea.

You can also redirect old monthly payments towards a college fund. If you finish paying off a credit card or other loan, throw the amount of money you were spending, into savings.

Drop by your financial aid office to learn more.

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