Survey: Young Americans Concerned About Student Debt, Widely Support Pell Grant Funding
There is broad concern about student debt and college affordability among young Americans–as well as support for Pell Grant funding–according to a recent survey.
Researchers found surprising homogeneity among respondents across social groups and levels of education.
“The survey found a high level of consistency in young adults’ views and concerns," reads a press release. “Regardless of their race/ethnicity, education level, gender, or party affiliation, the majority of young people feel that higher education is more difficult to afford, student loan debt is too high and Congress should not cut student aid. “
While most respondents said they believe a college education is more important now than ever, they were also worried about students' abilities to pay. Researchers found that 75 percent of young people do not want to see cuts to Pell Grants—and 56 percent said that they are strongly opposed to such cuts.
To gather data for the survey, researchers interviewed 872 respondents aged 18 to 34. The survey was co-commissioned by the Institute for College Access and Success, Demos and Young Invincibles, a project by the Center for Community Change.
“Young adults today are the first generation, as a whole, facing downward economic mobility compared to their parents’ generation,” said Tamara Draut, vice president of policy and programs for Demos. “And today, as job quality has declined for all but those with college degrees, higher education is too often a debt-for-diploma system that puts an immediate obstacle in front of new graduates as they start their working lives, and makes it harder for many young people to complete their degrees.”
Most young Americans agreed that a university education has become more difficult to afford in the past 5 years—and 73 percent say that graduates have more student debt that than they can handle.
The results of the survey have clear policy implications, according to the organization.
“This survey clearly shows how young adults view higher education today: it’s more important than ever but also less affordable, and it comes with too much debt,” Institute for College Access and Success President Lauren Asher said in a statement. “Whoever they are and whatever they earn, young adults share these concerns and see college affordability as a top priority for Congress and the economy.”
In September, a Senate Appropriates subcommittee approved an education budget that would maintain the maximum Pell Grant award of $5,500.
The Institute for College Access and Success is a nonprofit research and advocacy organization which works to increase the availability and affordability of higher education. Demos is a policy think tank based in New York, and Young Invincibles is a youth advocacy organization sponsored by the Center for Community Change.
Jon Christian is a reporter with Campus Progress. Follow him on Twitter @Jon_Christian.
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