||III. The Role of Government
There is public support for a government role in making college affordable, but the public does not think that this area should be a major priority for government attention.
- 86% strongly (67%) or somewhat (19%) agree that every capable person has a right to receive an education through college, even if he or she cannot afford it.31
- 68% think that government--as opposed to business, community, or other institutions--should play a major role in the future in making college education affordable.32
But the public is evenly divided on whether the government has a responsibility to make sure every person gets a college education even if he or she cannot afford it, with 48% saying government has a responsibility and 47% saying that it does not.33
And compared to other issues (such as health care, the environment, or K-12 education), the public assigns a low priority to higher education affordability
(see Table 3).
The public supports financial aid programs generally, and gives most support to tax breaks and work-study
(see Table 4).
- 87% of women say that government should play a strong (61%) or somewhat strong (26%) role in creating tax breaks to help parents pay for the cost of college and post-high school training.34
- 84% of adults say that they support the college student loan program a great deal (56%) or a fair amount (28%) as a good use of their tax dollars,35 and 87% think that the federally subsidized college loan program is very (55%) or somewhat (32%) important.36
- 55% would prefer a targeted tax cut to help middle- to lower-income families pay for things like college tuition and long-term care, as opposed to an across-the-board tax cut that affects all Americans.37
- Note: 73% say that people who receive federal aid for college should be expected to provide something in return, such as community service.38