Even College Presidents Are Pushing for Lower Tuition
Posted By Eliana Osborn on October 22, 2015 at 8:38 am
Gallup and Inside Higher Ed recently released College and University Presidents Study, one of several projects the research company and the higher education site are collaborating on. The July 2015 survey found strong support for a plan like those Bernie Sanders or Hilary Clinton have proposed, involving free college. While the survey was conducted before either candidates’ specific plans were presented, the numbers look promising when it comes to campus leadership getting behind big changes for college finance.
Few college presidents feel that it is likely that a four-year, debt-free college experience will be adopted any time in the near future. However, a full 50% said they would favor (either strongly or somewhat) “one specific proposal [which] calls for the federal government to provide states with $18 billion in matching awards to allow for free public higher education.”
More than 500 college and university presidents were surveyed on condition of anonymity. Responses are split between presidents of public colleges and those from private institutions, with significant differences when it comes to who favors a debt-free model. Not all private institution presidents are opposed, though 65% fall into that category.
Other findings from the poll include how presidents perceive the future of American education. While 90% of respondents feel excited about their school’s future, only 55% express the same enthusiasm for higher education in general.
With college closings in the news recently, some students are wondering whether their schools will be around long enough to let them finish their degrees. Few college presidents are concerned about financial pressures causing their schools to close, but 20% think the end might be in sight for their institutions.
Knowing that even college and university presidents are unsure about future of their schools is a sign that rising higher education costs are not just a problem for students. If schools are still struggling, despite rising tuition and fees, something in the system needs to change.
Nearly half of college leaders who responded to the survey expect enrollment to increase at their schools this year, and nearly all expect enrollment to be up over the next decade. As more and more young adults hope to attend college as a way to prepare for a successful future, educational costs will have to more closely reflect what they can actually pay.