Sixty Percent of Americans Now See Colleges as Businesses that "Care Mainly about the Bottom Line"

Jaime Dalbke

Are colleges now charging more than the average American family is willing to pay?

"Squeeze Play 2010: Continued Public Anxiety On Cost, Harsher Judgments On How Colleges Are Run," a recent survey of 1,031 adults conducted by Public Agenda, shows that Americans still believe in the value of a college education. But at the same time, more of them are growing anxious as tuition costs spiral out of control.

Let's take a look at what the survey found.

First, the good news about American's perception of a college education . . .

  • 55% of Americans believe that "A college education is necessary for a person to be successful in today's world." Back in year 2000, the same survey found that only 31% of Americans believed that was true.
  • 59% of Americans who have high school-age children say that it is "very likely" that those children will attend college.

And now, the bad news . . .

  • 60% of Americans believe that colleges "are like most businesses and care mainly about the bottom line."
  • 65% of Americans believe that the cost of education is rising faster than the cost of other things.
  • 65% of Americans believe that students have to borrow too much money to pay for their education.
  • 69% of Americans believe that some qualified students are unable to attend college today.
  • 64% of Americans believe that colleges should use Federal aid to hold down tuition costs. In contrast, only 25% of Americans believe that Federal funds should be used to maintain current programs.

In summary . . .

Americans still believe that their children should go to college. Yet they are becoming more skeptical about the value that traditional colleges present. This could be one reason why more and more Americans are turning to online learning to cut college costs.

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