Survey finds that Americans see less value, but are willing to borrow and spend more for higher education.
Though Americans consistently find less value in a college degree each year since 2008, a new survey of 3,000 people by Country Financial Security Index shows they are willing to spend and borrow more on pursuing a degree than they have been in the past.
The number of Americans who think college is a good investment dropped this year to 57%, compared to 58% in 2011, 64% in 2010, 78% in 2009, and 81% in 2008.
However, perhaps because 62% of those surveyed prioritize the quality of education over the cost, they are willing to put themselves in more debt to get an education. Since 2011, the number of Americans who believe $20,000 or less is “too much debt” to be in for college has decreased from 61% to 50%. Conversely, the number of Americans who believe more than $20,000 is “too much debt” has increased from 31% to 42%.
When it comes to paying for college, 57% say half or less of their child’s college costs will be paid for by loans. The vast majority, 80% of those surveyed, believe parents should pay for at least a portion of students’ higher education. Retirement savings seems to be viewed as a much better investment, as 45% of adults prioritize retirement savings, and only 38% prioritize college savings.
Some of these results seem to contrast with a survey of 1,601 people published July 16 by financial services firm Sallie Mae. The survey found that Americans were, in fact, willing to spend less on college, and 90% of families were making cuts on college costs. Additionally, it found that college cost plays a big role in deciding which school to attend, as 69% of families removed schools from their list solely based on cost.
While the Country Financial Security Index survey found general opinion of the value of college degrees has decreased, the Sallie Mae survey found perceptions of the value of college vary by generation. While 89% of students feel college is a worthy investment in the future, only 77% of parents feel the same.
Follow Anna Schumann on Twitter at @ASchumannCMN.