A new survey finds that most U.S. adults view a four-year college education as “unaffordable,” including the cost of attending an in-state public university.
In the Morning Consult survey, released Tuesday, 72% of respondents called an undergraduate degree at a for-profit private school “not affordable,” and 66% said the same of not-for-profit private schools.
About 66% described out-of-state public universities as unaffordable, while 52% said the same of in-state public universities.
Mamie Voight, president and chief executive of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, said rising costs are closing the doors of “social and economic mobility” to low-income people and minorities.
With the cost of books, housing and food increasing, she said those “who have the most to gain from higher education” are getting priced out.
Women and minority respondents were more likely than others to say “a college degree would be difficult for someone like them to afford.”
Morning Consult found that 82% of women and 4 out of 5 Hispanic and Black respondents agreed with that sentiment. By comparison, 73% of men and 77% of all adults said it would be hard to afford college.
While tuition has declined in recent years, the research company noted that the overall sticker price of college has “climbed substantially over the past 20 years.” Morning Consult said Americans’ average student loan debt grew by more than $5,500 between 2009 and 2015.
Only community or two-year colleges, vocational training and other professional certification programs elicited an “affordable” rating. About 65% of respondents found community colleges affordable and 57% said the same about vocational programs.
Morning Consult surveyed 4,420 adults Aug. 27-28. The margin of error was plus or minus 1 percentage point.