American Action Forum Higher Education National Survey

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American Action Forum Higher Education National Survey

  1. 1. Key findings from a national telephone survey of 800 likely voters, with 240 cell phone interviews, conducted January 19-22, 2014. AAF Higher Education National Survey Glen Bolger glen@pos.org Project #14040 Jim Hobart jimh@pos.org
  2. 2. Public Opinion Strategies is pleased to present the key findings of a national telephone survey. The survey was completed January 19-22, 2014 among 800 likely voters, including 240 cell phone- only respondents, and has a margin of error of +3.46%. Glen Bolger and Jim Hobart were the principal researchers on this project. Caitlin Reed was the project director, and Alex Geroux provided analytical support. Methodology
  3. 3. US Higher Education
  4. 4. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Working Pretty Well Now 14% Some Changes Needed 45% Major Changes Needed 24% Needs Complete Overhaul 13% Don't Know 4% Most voters do not think that our country’s college and university system needs major changes. There is no difference by education level. “Thinking now about the country’s college and university system, do you think our college and university system works pretty well as it is now; some changes are needed, but basically they should be kept the same; major changes are needed; or, needs a complete overhaul?” Overall By Education/Gender +24%+22% +20% Total Well/Basically Same: 59% Total Major Change/Overhaul: 37% 58% 61% 58% 58% 36% 37% 35% 38% Men w/o Degree (24%) Men w/ Degree (23%) Women w/o Degree (28%) Women w/ Degree (24%) Total Well/Basically Same +23%
  5. 5. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Much Better 11% Somewh at Better 18% Somewh at Worse 16% Much Worse 6% About the Same 32% Don't Know 15% Refused 2%* Voters are divided when it comes to comparing our college and university systems to those in other countries.“Compared to the college and university systems in other leading countries, do you think the college and university system in the United States is better, worse, or about the same?” *Denotes Rounding Total Better: 29% Total Worse: 23%*
  6. 6. Education Costs and Loans
  7. 7. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 An overwhelming majority describe the cost of tuition as being very expensive. Very Expensive 69% Somewhat Expensive 23% About the Right Price 4% Somewhat Inexpensive 1% Very Inexpensive 1% Don't Know 2% “How would you describe the cost of tuition at our country’s colleges and universities? Would you say tuition is very expensive, somewhat expensive, about the right price, somewhat inexpensive, or very inexpensive?” Hispanics 79% Very Liberals 76% Women without Degrees 75% Unmarried Women 74% African Americans 73% Women 18-34 73% Women 55+ 73% Somewhat Liberal 73% Women 72% Yes, Student Debt 72% Democrats 71% Strong Democrats 71% Age 55-64 71% Top Groups: Very Expensive (69%)Total Expensive: 92% Total Right Price/Inexpensive: 6%
  8. 8. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 The Colleges and Universities 33% State Government s 19% Federal Government 15% Parents and Students 27% Other 1% All of the Above 3% Don't Know 2% Most voters do not think it is the state or federal government’s responsibility to control the cost of college tuition.“Still thinking about this, who would you say should be most responsible for controlling the cost of college tuition. Should it be...the colleges and universities, state governments, the federal government, or parents and students who choose to pay for more expensive colleges, even though there are less expensive options.”
  9. 9. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Republicans (38%) The Colleges and Universities 41% Parents and students who choose to pay for more expensive colleges, even though there are less expensive options 29% State Governments 17% The Federal Government 9% All of the Above 1% Among both Independents and Democrats, there is no clear consensus on who or what should be responsible for the cost of college tuition. Independents (18%) The Colleges and Universities 34% Parents and students who choose to pay for more expensive colleges, even though there are less expensive options 31% State Governments 19% The Federal Government 8% All of the Above 6% Democrats (42%) The Colleges and Universities 25% Parents and students who choose to pay for more expensive colleges, even though there are less expensive options 25% The Federal Government 24% State Governments 20% All of the Above 3%
  10. 10. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Language is important. There is a clear difference of opinion when we test “taxpayer dollars” rather than “federal spending.” Strongly Favor 35% Somewha t Favor 25% Somewha t Oppose 17% Strongly Oppose 20% Don't Know 3%* “And, would you favor or oppose increased federal spending on federal student loans and grants for college students?”^ “And, would you favor or oppose increased spending of additional taxpayer dollars on federal student loans and grants for college students?”^^ Strongly Favor 26% Somewha t Favor 22% Somewha t Oppose 22% Strongly Oppose 27% Don't Know 3%* Total Favor: 60% Total Oppose: 37% Total Favor: 48% Total Oppose: 48%* *Denotes Rounding ^Split Sample A, N=399 ^^ Split Sample B, N=401
  11. 11. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 41% 38% 61%54% 61% 34% Republicans (38%) Independents (18%) Democrats (42%) Total Favor Total Oppose 44% 50% 76% 53% 44% 22% By Party Republicans and Independents oppose increasing taxpayer funding for federal loans and grants, while Democrats support it. +27%-23%-13% +54%+6%-9% Increase Federal Spending^ Additional Taxpayer Dollars^^ ^Split Sample A, N=399 ^^ Split Sample B, N=401
  12. 12. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Strongly Agree 31% Somewh at Agree 23% Somewh at Disagree 20% Strongly Disagree 20% Don't Know 6% A majority of voters agree that the increased federal spending on student loans and grants has caused tuition to rise.“Still thinking about this, I would like to read you a statement and please tell me if you agree or disagree with that statement. Increased federal government spending on student loans and grants has contributed to the rising cost of college tuition.” Total Agree: 54% Total Disagree: 40%
  13. 13. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 64% 64% 40% 28% 28% 55% Republicans (38%) Independents (18%) Democrats (42%) Total Agree Total Disagree Republicans and Independents agree that federal government spending on loans and grants has contributed to rising tuition costs.By Party +36%+36% -15%
  14. 14. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Yes, worth that amount of debt 42% No, not worth that amount of debt 52% Don't Know 5% Refused 1% A majority of voters do not believe a four-year college degree is worth $26,000 in debt. “Still thinking about student loans, the average student owes twenty-six thousand five- hundred dollars after graduating from a four-year college. Do you believe a four-year college degree is worth this amount of student loan debt?”
  15. 15. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 44% 36% 42% 48% 58% 54% Republicans (38%) Independents (18%) Democrats (42%) Yes, Worth It No, Not Worth It Voters across party lines agree that a four-year college degree is not worth the debt. By Party -22%-4% -12%
  16. 16. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 29% 42% 50% 48% 42% 66% 54% 46% 48% 47% 18-34 (20%) 35-44 (20%) 45-54 (19%) 55-64 (22%) 65+ (18%) Yes, Worth It No, Not Worth It Younger voters are especially averse to taking on this amount of debt. By Age -12%-37% 0%+4% -5%
  17. 17. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 45% 39% 49% 55% Men (48%) Women (52%) Yes, Worth It No, Not Worth It Women are more resistant to take on significant student loan debt. By Gender -16%-4%
  18. 18. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 32% 41% 47% 44% 39% 56% 54% 49% 50% 54% Very Conservative (17%) Somewhat Conservative (21%) Moderate (37%) Somewhat Liberal (16%) Very Liberal (8%) Yes, Worth It No, Not Worth It By Ideology -15%-6%-13%-24% Voters across ideological lines agree that the debt is not worth it. Moderates are the most divided. -2%
  19. 19. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 36% 38% 51% 59% 57% 44% Less than $40,000 (32%) $40,000-$80,000 (24%) $80,000+ (34%) Yes, Worth It No, Not Worth It Higher income earners are less concerned about the amount of debt from a four-year college degree. By Income -19%-23% +7%
  20. 20. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 36% 55% 34% 45% 56% 42% 61% 49% Men w/o Degree (24%) Men w/ Degree (23%) Women w/o Degree (28%) Women w/ Degree (24%) Yes, Worth It No, Not Worth It By Education/Gender -4%-27%+13%-20% Men with degrees are most likely to believe that a four-year college degree is worth the debt.
  21. 21. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 43% 41% 39% 47% 52% 52% 57% 46% Yes, Kids (35%) No Kids (65%) Moms (19%) Dads (16%) Yes, Worth It No, Not Worth It Neither parents or non-parents believe a four-year degree is worth the debt. Dads are divided. By Kids -11%-9% -18% +1%
  22. 22. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 On average, voters think that college graduates should be paying twelve percent of their income towards their loans each month.“Now thinking some more about student loans…Approximately, what percentage of their income should a college graduate with student loan debt have to pay towards their loans each month?” 12.2% Mean Score
  23. 23. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Strongly Favor 25% Somewh at Favor 27% Somewh at Oppose 23% Strongly Oppose 20% Don't Know 4% Refused 1% There is modest support for streamlining the student aid process even if it is a little more difficult to help the neediest students.“Thinking further about student loans, would you favor or oppose simplifying and streamlining the student aid process to just one type of loan or one type of grant so that students know their eligibility sooner, even if it meant making it a little more difficult to help the neediest students?” Total Favor: 52% Total Oppose: 43%
  24. 24. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 57% 56% 47% 36% 40% 50% Republicans (38%) Independents (18%) Democrats (42%) Total Favor Total Oppose Republicans and Independents share a similar view on streamlining the aid process. By Party +16%+21% -3%
  25. 25. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 49% 56% 53% 46% 38% 45% Less than $40,000 (32%) $40,000-$80,000 (24%) $80,000+ (34%) Total Favor Total Oppose Streamlining the aid process is favored by voters of all income levels. By Income +18%+3% +8%
  26. 26. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Republicans in Congress 20% President Obama 14% Democrats in Congress 12% High Cost of College Tuition 35% Politicians in Both Parties 9% Other 2% None of the Above 3% Don't Know 4% Refused 1% Voters are divided on where to place blame for the recent increase in student loan interest rates. “As you may know, a few months ago, the President and Congress allowed interest rates on student loans to increase. Who or what do you think is most to blame for the interest rates on student loans increasing?” 26%
  27. 27. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Republicans (38%) The high cost of college tuition 30% Democrats in Congress 26% President Barack Obama 25% Politicians in both parties 7% Don’t Know 5% None of the Above 3% Republicans in Congress 2% Something Else 2% All voters agree that the high cost of tuition is a major factor, but they also blame members of Congress from the other party. Independents (18%) The high cost of college tuition 36% President Barack Obama 17% Republicans in Congress 15% Politicians in both parties 13% Democrats in Congress 7% None of the Above 5% Something Else 3% Don’t Know 2% Democrats (42%) The high cost of college tuition 39% Republicans in Congress 39% Politicians in both parties 9% President Barack Obama 4% Don’t Know 4% Democrats in Congress 2% Something Else 1% None of the Above 1%
  28. 28. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 “Thinking some more about federal student loans and grants, I would like to read you two statements about where students who receive federal student loans and grants should be able to attend college. After I read the statements, please tell me which comes closest to your own opinion.” A large majority of voters believe students receiving federal aid should have the freedom to attend any college or university. Some people say that students who receive federal student loans and grants should have freedom of choice and be able to attend any college or university they want. Other people say that students who receive federal student loans and grants should only be permitted to attend colleges and universities that are approved by the federal government. 80% 18% …while…
  29. 29. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Colleges and Universities 9% The Federal Government 12% State Government s 7% Students 36% Parents of Students 32% All of the Above 3% None of the Above 1% Most voters think that students and their parents are responsible for making sure they have an opportunity to get a college degree.“Who is most responsible for making sure that all students have the opportunity to get a college degree.”
  30. 30. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Republicans (38%) Students 39% Parents of Students 37% The Federal Government 8% Colleges and Universities 6% State Governments 5% All of the Above 3% Voters across party lines say that students are responsible for making sure they have the opportunity to earn a college degree. Independents (18%) Students 37% Parents of Students 29% Colleges and Universities 10% State Governments 10% The Federal Government 5% All of the Above 5% Democrats (42%) Students 32% Parents of Students 28% The Federal Government 18% Colleges and Universities 10% State Governments 8% All of the Above 3%
  31. 31. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 66% 5% 51% 9% 37% 6% 89% 9%* 82%* 17% 75% 20% Strongly Favor Total Favor Voters strongly favor prior learning assessments and open online courses. Ranked by % Strongly Favor Prior learning assessments that determine whether the knowledge a student has obtained through previous education or work experience earns them college credit, which will help students avoid taking courses they do not need. Massive open online courses that would offer unlimited enrollment and access via the Internet. These courses would be aimed at students who are unable to attend traditional classes on campus. Competency based learning, which is an approach to teaching and learning that focuses more on concrete skills than on abstract learning. * Denotes Rounding
  32. 32. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Strongly Favor 13% Somewhat Favor 21% Somewhat Oppose 13% Strongly Oppose 51% Don't Know 2% Voters strongly oppose the federal government tracking students after they graduate.“Still thinking about the federal government and education, would you favor or oppose allowing the federal government to use personally identifiable information such as Social Security numbers, employment history, and salary to track students after college to determine the effectiveness of college programs?” Total Favor: 34% Total Oppose: 64%
  33. 33. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 25% 23% 46% 74% 74% 52% Republicans (38%) Independents (18%) Democrats (42%) Total Favor Total Oppose Republicans and Independents are the most opposed to tracking students, but Democrats are also against it. By Party -51%-49% -6%
  34. 34. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Voters are much more likely to support the tracking if the student must consent to it first. Much More Likely 28% Somewhat More Likely 34% Somewhat Less Likely 11% Much Less Likely 23% Don't Know 3% Refused 1% “And, would you be more likely or less likely to allow the federal government to track a student’s personally identifiable information such as Social Security numbers, employment history, and salary if the student first had to agree to allow this information to be tracked?” Very Liberals 45% White Democrats 44% Yes, Student Debt 41% Somewhat Liberals 40% Soft/Lean Democrats 39% Age 18-34 39% Democrats 38% Women with Degrees 38% Strong Democrats 37% Moms 37% Northeast Region 36% College Education+ 34% African Americans 32% Women 31% Top Groups: Much More Likely (28%)Total More Likely: 62% Total Less Likely: 34%
  35. 35. College Selection
  36. 36. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Proximity of college to home or work 6% Courses the college offers 50% Average student loan debt of graduates 3% Graduation rates of the college 11% Reputation and name recognition of the college 10% Cost of college 18% Other 1% Don't Know 1%* Course offerings are the most important factor for half of likely voters. “And, what information would you say is most important when picking a college...” * Denotes Rounding
  37. 37. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 African Americans 25% Hispanics 25% Women without Degrees 25% Strong Democrats 24% Women 18-34 24% Women 35-54 24% Moms 24% Northeast Region 22% High School or Less Education 22% Democrats 21% Age 35-44 21% Age 45-54 21% Moderates 21% Some College Education 21% Yes, Kids 21% Top Groups: Cost of College (18%) Top Groups: Cost of College (18%)
  38. 38. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 African Americans are the most likely to take into account the average earnings of graduates from individual college programs. Very Important 28% Somwhat Important 48% Not Very Important 14% Not At All Important 9% Don't Know 1%* “And, when looking at colleges, how important is it to know the average earnings of graduates of individual programs at the college.” African Americans 51% Strong Democrats 38% High School or Less Education 38% Men 18-34 37% Age 18-34 35% Very Conservatives 35% Women 18-34 34% Women without Degrees 34% Moms 34% Yes, Student Debt 34% Strong Republicans 31% Democrats 31% Southern Region 31% Top Groups: Very Important (28%)Total Important: 76% Total Not Important: 24%* * Denotes Rounding
  39. 39. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Strongly Favor 20% Somewha t Favor 26% Somewha t Oppose 18% Strongly Oppose 33% Don't Know 2% Refused 1% Republicans and Independents strongly oppose the President’s rankings proposal. “As you may know, President Obama has proposed ranking colleges and universities based on a number of factors, including the average tuition they charge, the number of low-income students they enroll, and the amount of debt their graduates owe. The colleges and universities that score the highest in these rankings would potentially received more federal student aid money. Would you favor or oppose this proposal?” Overall By Party -19%-44% +36% Total Favor: 46% Total Oppose: 51% 27% 38% 67% 71% 57% 31% Republicans (38%) Independents (18%) Democrats (42%) Total Favor Total Oppose
  40. 40. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Strongly Favor 22% Somewhat Favor 21% Somewhat Oppose 13% Strongly Oppose 42% Don't Know 2%* Voters oppose giving the federal government the authority to set price controls on public colleges and universities. “Thinking about a new topic, would you favor or oppose giving the federal government the authority to set price controls on public colleges and universities, as well as have the authority to penalize colleges and universities that they deem too expensive. Would you favor or oppose this proposal?” Total Favor: 44%* Total Oppose: 55% * Denotes Rounding
  41. 41. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 25% 37% 64% 74% 63% 34% Republicans (38%) Independents (18%) Democrats (42%) Total Favor Total Oppose Both Republicans and Independents oppose giving the federal government this authority. By Party -26%-49% +30%
  42. 42. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 50% 47% 42% 33% 48% 51% 58% 66% High School or Less (24%) Some College (29%) College Graduate (31%) Graduate/Professional Education (16%)Total Favor Total Oppose By Education -33%-16%-4%+2% Voters with graduate and professional education are most opposed to the federal government having this authority.
  43. 43. The Bottom Line
  44. 44. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Well, compared to the poll that focused on K-12 education, there is more consensus on higher education policy, but there is still some uncertainty, especially with regards to who is responsible (and should be responsible) for high tuition prices. Looking first at the political environment, voters are quite pessimistic. Just 29% of voters say things in the country are going in the right direction, while 65% say they are off on the wrong track. This pessimism is taking its toll on President Obama, as 42% say they approve of the job he is doing, while 55% say they disapprove. These numbers are very similar to President Bush’s at this point in his second term (39% approve/54% disapprove in January of 2006). In a bit of good news for Democrats, they do have a three point lead on the generic Congressional ballot, but small generic ballot leads at this point do not necessarily portend good thing to come for Democratic congressional candidates in November. (At this point in 2010, Dems held a 2 point lead on the generic ballot, before going on to lose 63 seats!) Turning now to the education questions, voters are generally pleased with the country’s college and university system, with 59% saying the system is working pretty well or needs only some changes, compared to 37% who say it needs major changes or a complete overhaul. However, voters are unsure on how the United States’ college and university system compares to the rest of the world, with 29% saying it is better, 23% saying worse, and 32% believing it is about the same. An additional 15% say they don’t know. THE BOTTOM LINE
  45. 45. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Voters overwhelmingly believe that college tuition is very expensive, but are unsure who should be responsible for controlling the cost. Colleges and universities are the choice of 33% of voters, with parents and students following at 27%. There is limited belief that controlling the cost of tuition should be the responsibility of state (19%) or federal (15%) government. A majority of voters do agree that increased government spending on student loans and grants has contributed to rising tuition costs. When told that the average student has more than $26,000 in student loan debt after graduating from a four year college, a slim majority said that a four year degree was NOT worth that amount of debt (42% worth the debt/52% not worth the debt). Younger voters, women, very conservative voters, and voters without a college degree are most likely to say that a degree is not worth that amount of debt. A slim majority (52%) of voters favor streamlining the student aid process, even if it would make it more difficult to help the neediest students. Republicans and Independents are closely aligned on this issue, while Democrats narrowly oppose it. Asked who is to blame for interest rates on student loans increasing, 35% of voters blame the high cost of college tuition, followed by GOPers in Congress (20%), President Obama (14%) and Democrats in Congress (12%). Voters across party lines say the high cost of college tuition is most to blame, with partisans also blaming members from the other party.
  46. 46. AAF Higher Education Survey ~ January 19-22, 2014 Voters see the opportunity to get a college degree as the responsibility of students (36%) and parents (32%), with only a handful of voters viewing it as the responsibility of the federal (12%) or state (7%) government. Looking at the new methods of instruction we tested, there is very strong support for both prior learning assessments and large open online courses. Support for competency based learning is also solid. Conversely, there is strong opposition to the federal government tracking students after college in order to determine the effectiveness of programs. Opposition does soften if students first have to agree to be tracked, especially among Democrats. When it comes to picking a college, half (51%) of voters say that course offerings are the most important factor. Just 18% say the cost is most important. African Americans, Hispanics, and younger women are most likely to cite cost as being the most important factor to them. Voters do say that the average earnings of graduates of individual programs at the college is important to them, but intensity is somewhat soft. African Americans and younger voters are most likely to say it is very important to them. Finally, neither of President Obama’s recent education proposals is particularly popular. His ranking proposal is opposed by a majority (51%) of voters, with intensity decidedly against it. Votes are also opposed to giving the federal government the authority to set price controls on public colleges and universities.
  47. 47. For more information about this presentation or about Public Opinion Strategies, please give us a call. 214 N. Fayette St. Alexandria, Virginia 22314 (703) 836-7655 - Phone (703) 836-8117 - Fax Turning Questions Into Answers

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