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Foreword
 
Preface and Methodology
 
Executive Summary
 
I. The Importance of Higher Education
 
II. Concerns about Price, Confidence about Accessiblity
 
III. The Role of Government
 
IV. Other Ways to Keep College Affordable
 
Probing Behind the Findings
 
Endnotes
 
About the Author
 
About Public Agenda
 
About the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education
 

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Page 6 of 12

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

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