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Who Should Pay? Higher Education, Responsibility, and the Public

Author: Natasha Quadlin
Author: Brian Powell
Date: January 22, 2022
Language: English
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Abstract: Who Should Pay? draws on a decade’s worth of public opinion surveys analyzing public attitudes about whether parents, students, or the government should be primarily responsible for funding higher education. Quadlin and Powell find that between 2010 and 2019, public opinion has shifted dramatically in favor of more government funding. In 2010, Americans overwhelming believed that parents and students were responsible for the costs of higher education. Less than a decade later, the percentage of Americans who believed that federal or state/local government should be the primary financial contributor has more than doubled. The authors contend that the rapidity of this change may be due to the effects of the 2008 financial crisis and the growing awareness of the social and economic costs of high levels of student debt. Quadlin and Powell also find increased public endorsement of shared responsibility between individuals and the government in paying for higher education. The authors additionally examine attitudes on the accessibility of college for all, whether higher education at public universities should be free, and whether college is worth the costs. 
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Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
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