Paying For College



NPR's been looking at how American families are paying for college and the huge debt some students are racking up. Some states are experimenting with a new idea. It's called Pay It Forward and here's how it works. The state pays for students' tuition. After they graduate and get jobs, the students are expected to repay it.

When Kristine Leighton graduated from a private college five years ago with a degree in hospitality, she owed $75,000 in student loans. Each month, she paid the minimum amount of $450 and lived at home with her parents on Long Island, N.Y.

Around the country, millions of parents of prospective college freshmen are puzzling over one big question: How will we pay for college?

The first step for many families is reviewing the financial aid award letters they receive from each school. But often those letters can be confusing. Some are filled with acronyms and abbreviations, others lump scholarships and loans together. And because they're often very different, they're also difficult to compare.