3Squeeze Play 2010:
Continued Public Anxiety on Cost, Harsher Judgments on How Colleges Are Run
Squeeze PlAy 2010
Which comes closer to your own view?
2009Colleges could spend less and stillmaintain a high quality o education54I colleges cut budgets, the qualityo an education will suer40
Mintin Crrnt Oprtions
or Hod th lin on Tition?
Another indicator o the public’s perception that thereis “at” that could be cut in higher education withoutlowering the quality o education is the attitude towardederal stimulus money that is currently going to publiccolleges and universities (or example, the $100 billionallocated to the U.S. Department o Education or K–12and higher education–related programs as part o the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). In the pub-lic’s mind, this money should go primarily to holdingdown the tuition and ees that colleges charge the stu-dents, rather than to helping colleges maintain programsand sta. Only 25 percent o Americans believe thatmost o the stimulus money should go to helping schoolsmaintain their current operations, while 64 percent saythat all or part o the money should go toward holdingdown tuition and ees.Do you think that colleges and states that receiveederal stimulus money or higher education should…?
2009Use all or part o it to hold down tuition and ees,even i that means colleges have less money tospend on operations and programs64Use most o the money to maintain currentoperations and programs, even i that meansincreases in tuition and ees25
Two Coiding Trnds
The public’s more skeptical view on how colleges and uni- versities manage their budgets and operations emerges inthe context o two important long-term trends documentedby the National Center and Public Agenda in a series o studies since 1993. The rst o these is a growing convic-tion about the necessity o a higher education or successin contemporary America. When we began studying thistopic in the early nineties, we ound that many peoplebelieved that higher education had undeniable benets,but they also believed that there were many other waysto be successul without a higher education (college drop-out Bill Gates was requently cited as an example). In our most recent studies, however, the number o people whothought that a higher education is absolutely necessaryor success jumped dramatically, up rom 31 percent asrecently as 2000 to 55 percent in our last two studies in2008 and 2009.The growing emphasis on the necessity o college may beunderstandable, given that the country is moving into amore knowledge-intensive-workplace economy. But thistrend has been accompanied by strengthening convic-tion in the public’s mind—the belie that just as collegehas become more and more necessary, it is becomingless and less available to many qualied people.The perception that a college education is out o reach or many qualied students was high during the recession years o the early 1990s, dropped in the years o economicboom, but climbed sharply as the recession intensied last year and has reached its highest measured point in our most recent survey, with 69 percent saying that there aremany qualied people who do not have access to higher education, up rom 47 percent in 2000 and up by sevenpercentage points in the last two years.