Is College Worth It?

May 15, 2011

A majority of Americans (57%) say the higher education system in the United States fails to provide good value for the money students and their families spend, and about four-in-ten college presidents say the system is headed in the wrong direction, according to a pair of new nationwide surveys—one of the general public; the other of college presidents—conducted by the Pew Research Center.

At a time when sharply rising student debt burdens have touched off a national debate about the cost and value of a college education, the public survey shows that fewer than one-in-four Americans (22%) believe that most people today can afford to pay for a college education, down from 39% who felt this way a quarter of a century ago.

College presidents are not as concerned as the public about affordability, but their survey responses reveal broad misgivings about quality and standards—both of the institutions themselves and of the students attending them.

Read the full report Is College Worth It? on the on the Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends Web site.

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