Survey: GenXers Fretting About College $$$

August 25, 2005 ( - Some 38% of GenXers (age 26 to 40) believe that educational costs will be out of their financial reach by the time their children are ready to attend college, a new survey found.

A news release about the Fifth Annual Across Generations survey by the MainStay division of New York Life Investment Management LLC (NYLIM) said that figure was up sharply from 29% the year before.

According to the survey, Boomers (age 41-59) are significantly less likely to contribute to their children’s college fund than GenXers. Nearly one-in-five (19%) of Boomers responsible for one or more children say they plan to make no contribution at all to their children’s college fund and an additional 15% plan to contribute less than $10,000. GenX is defined as age 26 to 40, Boomers are defined as age 41 to 59 and Matures age 60 to 82.

Instead, Baby Boomers and Matures (age 60 to 82) are much more interested in achieving/sustaining their current lifestyle and living well in retirement than GenXers are, according to the survey.


  • In comparison to last year, a higher percentage of today’s GenXers (55% vs. 44% a year ago) and Boomers (51% vs. 40%) believe that their company retirement savings plans will not be able to support them in their old age.
  • More than one in five (22%) of Matures say they no longer invest in non-retirement vehicles because of market volatility, up from 5% in 2004. Roughly one in ten GenXers and Boomers also note that worries about market volatility keep them from investing non-retirement assets in financial products.
  • More than eight in ten GenXers (82%), 74% of Boomers and 60% of Matures fear the government will not provide enough financial assistance in retirement, up dramatically from 74%, 53% and 40%, respectively last year.
  • Only 6% of Boomers say they would save for their children’s education if they received an unexpected $50,000, while more than one in seven (14%) GenXers concur.
  • Boomers are more likely to use the money to make home improvements (9%) than to save for children’s education (6%). Still, the average dollar amount that GenXers and Boomers plan to contribute over time is roughly the same, with both groups expecting to put aside an average of $60,000.
  • More than one quarter of GenXers (27%) and one in five Boomers (20%) expect their parents or other family members to contribute an average of $50,000 to their children’s college funds. They may be disappointed, however since only half of all Boomer and Mature grandparents plan to make any contribution.
  • Among Boomers and Mature respondents with grandchildren, Matures tend to be slightly more generous with education contributions, on average, than Boomers, with the average Mature grandparent expecting to contribute roughly $17,000 vs. $13,000 for the average Boomer grandparent, the survey found.
  • As the oldest Boomers begin to reach 60, the 2005 survey found that Boomers seem to be more anxious about their impending retirement. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of this year’s Baby Boomer respondents say they have had to cut back on spending because they have not saved enough for retirement, as opposed to 18% in 2004.

The MainStay Across Generations Survey (2005) was conducted by an online research firm during the spring of 2005. The survey polled 1,537 individuals ages 26 to 82. Respondents were US residents with a total net worth of at least $100,000.