The National Center welcomes the reactions of readers to this report.
In 2001, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education asked Public Agenda, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, to review available surveys on public opinion related to the affordability of American higher education. The result of this review, The Affordability of Higher Education: A Review of Recent Survey Research, updates the National Center's already extensive database on public attitudes about higher education. This report supplements the findings of another National Center report, Losing Ground: A National Status Report on the Affordability of American Higher Education. As previous public opinion research reveals, one of the most important concerns for the American public regarding higher education is how to pay the rising price of a college education.
If the current fiscal conditions affecting the states--and higher education--continue, it is very likely that public concerns about the affordability of higher education will intensify. A similar situation occurred in the early 1990s, when tuition at public colleges and universities rose dramatically in many states. A public backlash against these increases emerged, leading to tuition freezes in several states and to tuition rollbacks in others. The backlash also prompted lawmakers--in the states and at the federal level--to create new and to enhance existing tax breaks that help the middle class pay for college. Surveys show that the public understands the need for education and training beyond high school. If recent experience is a reliable guide, the public is likely to insist that government and higher education leaders find ways to maintain access to affordable higher education.
The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education