Worry about Affording Higher Ed Tops Reasons for U.S. Insecurity

“Making higher education more affordable” tops the list of solutions that the public believes would help people become more economically secure, according to a new Public Agenda survey, “Slip-Sliding Away: An Anxious Public Talks about Today’s Economy and the American Dream.”

The New York City-based Public Agenda finds four in 10 Americans are struggling to pay bills and worried about maintaining a middle-class life.

“Even with their short-term worries about paying the bills, the public’s biggest concerns are about affording college and a secure retirement, and they put their faith in long-term solutions like making higher education affordable, job training and preserving Social Security and Medicare,” according to the think tank’s study funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Indeed, 63% of Americans say “making higher education affordable would be “very effective” in helping those who are struggling economically, compared with 48% who name cutting taxes for the middle class and 40% who cite reducing the federal deficit.

One reason Public Agenda posits for the faith in education: the public’s perception of who’s struggling the most in the current economy. Three-quarters of Americans say  people without college degrees are struggling, compared with just half who say college graduates are struggling.


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