Poll: Voters Value College Quality, Access
“Georgia Voters: Views on Higher Education”
Atlanta – Jan. 30, 2009 – Voters give high marks to Georgia’s four-year colleges and universities, and they believe higher education budget cuts should be minimized even in difficult economic times, according to a public opinion poll released today by ARCHE, the Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education.
The poll documents that Georgia voters recognize the importance of public and private colleges and universities to economic development and to Georgia’s national reputation. They also recognize the importance of scientific research to the state. And they support funding – even from their own pockets – for enhanced quality of education and financial aid for students who need it.
The online poll of 600 registered Georgia voters was conducted in late November and early December 2008. At the 95 percent confidence level, the margin of error is +/- 4.0 percent for questions reporting the full sample. The poll is available in full on the ARCHE Web site at http://www.atlantahighered.org/Portals/12/UploadFiles/ARCHEpoll09web.pdf.
“Voters value great colleges and universities in Georgia, they want them to be even better, and they’re willing to pay for increased quality and access,” said ARCHE President Michael A. Gerber. “They want Georgia to be a national higher ed leader, although they’re not quite sure we’re there yet.”
Quality: Almost eight out of 10 Georgia voters rate the quality of the state’s four-year public and private colleges and universities as excellent or good (79 percent for the public institutions and 78 percent for the private institutions).
Leadership: Ninety-three percent say it is very or somewhat important for Georgia to be a national leader in the quality of its colleges. Forty-nine percent agree that Georgia is currently a national leader; 37 percent disagree; and 14 percent don’t know.
Importance to Georgians: Nearly all voters think higher education is important in shaping individual success, economic growth and quality of life in Georgia. For example, 96 percent rate Georgia’s colleges and universities very or somewhat important to economic growth in the state.
Funding quality: Eighty percent of voters believe that state budget cuts to public colleges and universities should be minimized, even during today’s economic downturn. Almost two thirds (65 percent) are willing to pay $1 more a week in taxes if the money goes to enhance the quality of education for college students.
Tuition: A majority (56 percent) favor increasing tuition at public institutions if it supports academic programs and need-based student financial aid. About half (49 percent) would suspend the state’s “fixed for four” tuition program for public colleges to avoid cutting programs and lowering quality.
Financial aid and college cost: Nearly eight in 10 Georgia voters support using lottery surplus funds for new financial aid for students who need it (78 percent support such a program). More than half (56 percent) would pay $1 more per week in taxes to fund additional low- and middle-income student aid in the state.
More than half (59 percent) say a college education is somewhat or very unaffordable without a HOPE scholarship.
Plans for college: Ninety-five percent of parents believe it’s very or somewhat likely that their school-age child will enroll in a four-year college. Of these, 94 percent say it is very or somewhat likely their child would attend a college or university in Georgia.
Research: A large majority (88 percent) think research is very or somewhat important to the state’s economy. Eighty-nine percent believe it very or somewhat important that the state invest in research to create new jobs, and 79 percent agree the state should offer financial incentives to attract new scientific research labs and companies.
The Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education brings together 19 public and private colleges and universities. Founded in 1938, ARCHE builds awareness of the size, scope, impact and value of higher education and helps its members share strengths through cooperative programs such as cross registration for courses and library sharing. Visit www.atlantahighered.org for information about ARCHE, its members and its reports.