Higher education can increase an individual’s economic mobility, and it has done so for millions of students who have earned degrees. But persistent gaps in educational attainment by race and income, the rising price of college and subsequent growth in student debt, and an increase in the number of students not completing their programs prevent college from being the springboard into the middle class that it should be. This may help explain why, according to recent survey data we released in May, only one in four Americans thinks higher education is fine the way it is.
The public opinion data gathered by our survey, Varying Degrees, provide insights into what Americans know about, and how they perceive, higher education. Today, we add to the growing body of work housed at VaryingDegrees.org by including a section on the policy implications of the data, and how they can help policymakers and researchers consider new ways for higher education to deliver on its promise.
Suggested policy changes include reducing the price of college and other related expenses through providing for students’ living expenses, and increasing college access through targeted low-cost or no-debt higher education options for low- and moderate-income students and families. In addition, two policies that would go a long way in understanding students and their success would be to make sure all students are counted in outcome metrics, and scaling practices that have been proven to accelerate learning. You can read more about each of these policies here.
Have something to add to the discussion? We want to hear from you! We teamed up with Young Invincibles to explore the results in a #MillennialMon chat on Twitter on August 14th. The storify of that chat is below, but you can continue to participate by tweeting using #VaryingDegrees.