- More than half of U.S. adults believe higher education is available to anyone
- Only about a quarter say higher education is affordable
- Attitudes about availability and affordability unchanged in past five years
A majority of U.S. adults (60%) say education beyond high school is available to anyone in the country who needs it. The percentage reporting that additional postsecondary education is available to those who need it is consistent with the last time Gallup asked this question in 2015 but has declined since its high in 2011.
These results are based on a recent Gallup poll of more than 1,000 U.S. adults.
A Quarter of U.S. Adults Say Higher Ed Is Affordable
About one in four U.S. adults (27%) report that education beyond high school is affordable, a rate that has remained fairly consistent since Gallup began asking this question in 2012.
Youth Are Negative on Education Availability
Less than half of U.S. adults aged 18 to 29 (46%) say education beyond high school is available to those who need it -- significantly lower than the 60% or higher among those in older generations who say the same.
A less clear relationship exists between age and the belief that education is affordable. Only 22% of those aged 18 to 29 say higher education is affordable, compared with 31% of those aged 30 to 49, 23% of those aged 50 to 64 and 31% of those aged 65 and older.
The percentages of U.S. adults saying higher education is affordable and is available to anyone who needs it have remained stable since Gallup last asked these questions in 2015. This may seem like good news given Americans' declining confidence in higher ed -- but perhaps not, given the proliferation of online degree-granting programs and the expansion of degree alternatives such as digital badging and micro-credentialing. These programs were designed to improve access to education beyond high school for millions of Americans interested in upskilling and reskilling -- unfortunately, public opinion about availability appears stagnant despite these changes.
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