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The number of Americans who believe that higher education is essential for a decent job and place in American society has jumped from 31% in 2000 to 50% in 2007.
The majority of Americans (59%) believe college prices are rising as fast or faster than prices for health care.
Seventy-eight percent of Americans believe that students have to borrow too much money to pay for college.
Although 86% say that someone willing to make enough sacrifices can go to college, most (62%) also believe that many qualified individuals donít have access to higher education.
Concern about access is much higher among minority parents. While 62% of them believe that a college degree is necessary, 74% think that many qualified and motivated students donít have the opportunity for a college education.
Higher education still gets good marks from the public: 51% give it a grade of good or excellent, compared to 37% for secondary schools.
Regardless of this generally positive view of higher education, more than half of people surveyed (52%) think colleges are like a business, focusing more on the bottom line than on education, and almost half (48%) say they want to overhaul public colleges.


Parents and the Public Voice Concern About Higher Education Access and Affordability

There is a growing perception among the public that they are caught in a bind when it comes to higher education. Polling from a recent report called Squeeze Play: How Parents and the Public Look at Higher Education Today, from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, and Public Agenda, revealed a considerable unease, because, while ever larger numbers see a college education as an absolute necessity for success in todayís world, many believe that opportunity for higher education is slipping out of reach for a growing number of individuals.

Nevertheless, these concerns remain in the background, and tend not to be seen as a top priority. A number of factors have prevented the public from going into a panic about higher education availability, but people are increasingly nervous. Higher education leaders might be well advised to get out in front of this issue before the situation comes to a head.

Squeeze Play: How Parents and the Public Look at Higher Education Today, by John Immerwahr and Jean Johnson, was prepared by Public Agenda for the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, in collaboration with Making Opportunity Affordable, an initiative of Lumina Foundation for Education.The full report is available from the National Center at


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