Many families expect more free financial aid than they are likely to receive. The left chart shows how families expect to pay for college with: 1) income and investments, 2) loans and 3) free financial aid and gifts. The right chart shows how much actually comes from those three sources. Key takeaway: The average family pays 17% more than expected out of their pocket. And their share of total college costs continues rising, from 34% to 54% in the last five years alone.