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Families are taking fewer loans and using more of their own money to pay for college than at any point in the last five years. That’s according to a new study from Sallie Mae, the student-loan and financial-services company.

The study, which has been conducted annually for the last seven years, found that while families are still spending just as much on college as they were before, they paid 22 percent of costs through loans in 2014, compared to 27 percent both in 2013 and 2012.

The remaining costs were covered by out-of-pocket spending (42 percent), scholarships and grants (31 percent), and friends and relatives (4 percent).

The study also found:

  • The average family spent $11,012 on two-year, public schools in 2014. For four-year public schools, the figure was $21,072. Spending on four-year private schools was $34,855.
  • Low-income students are borrowing less than the general population.
  • More students are turning to two-year schools to cut costs. Enrollment is at 34 percent this year, compared to 30 percent last year.
  • Common cost-cutting strategies included attending in-state schools (69 percent), spending less on entertainment (66 percent), living closer to home (61 percent), and living at home (54 percent).
  • Only 38 percent of respondents said they had a plan to pay for all college costs before enrolling in college.
  • One-third of families said they were surprised by some expenses, especially textbooks.

Graphic courtesy of Sallie Mae

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Follow Dan Abendschein at @dabendschein