We’ve heard quite a bit of talk in recent years from academic and governmental leaders about the importance of making U.S. higher education more accessible and affordable to Americans. The White House has pledged to “make college more accessible, affordable, and attainable for all American families,” and President Obama has also pushed to make community college tuition-free. Also, college presidents have opined about the issue and what their institutions are doing to ensure that a college education is within reach of all U.S. families.
But according to the latest research on this topic, Americans are buying in to only part of this message.
According to a Gallup/Lumina Foundation report released last week, 61 percent of Americans believe that college is accessible to anyone who wants to pursue a degree. But only 21 percent see a college education as affordable.
The implications of this study are huge for higher ed. As Gallup’s Brandon Busteed and Stephanie Kafka point out, “If a bachelor’s degree is one important way for today’s young adults to achieve the American dream, affordability in particular could jeopardize that dream.”
So, even though it seems a majority of Americans see that a college education is an option, they are less optimistic in their ability to pay for it.
How will higher education respond?