A growing number of Americans are questioning the value of going to college

Dorothy S. Bass


In line with previous years, the survey finds that Democrats and Republicans disagree about multiple aspects of higher education. While 73% of Democrats believe colleges and universities have a positive impact on the country, only 37% of Republicans feel that way.

Americans also remain divided on who should pay for higher education. Most Democrats (77%) say the government should fund higher education because it’s good for society, while the majority of Republicans (63%) say students should pay for post high school education because they benefit from it.

A new question on this year’s survey asked respondents about the minimum level of education they believe their immediate or close family members should receive in order to be financially secure. While nearly three-quarters of respondents agree some sort of postsecondary education is required for their child or close family member to achieve financial security, there are partisan divides. Only a quarter of Democrats say that a high school diploma or GED is sufficient to achieve economic security, compared to 39% of Republicans who say so.

Despite the overall agreement on the value of higher education, many Americans are concerned about affordability. Only about half of respondents think Americans can get an affordable, high-quality education after high school.

Across the political spectrum, says Nguyen, people “are pretty aligned on the affordability questions.” But, she says, they don’t agree on how to solve these affordability issues. “I think that’s translated to the current policy environment we’re living in right now.”

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


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