Association Staff
Directors


Michael W. Klein, JD, PhD
Chief Executive Officer
mwklein@njascu.org

Barbara Berreski, Esq.
Government & Legal Affairs
bberreski@njascu.org

Paul R. Shelly
Communications & Marketing
prshelly@njascu.org

Wendy A. Lang
Programs & Policy Initiatives
walang@njascu.org

Support Staff:

Patricia A. Stearman
Budget & Administration
pastearman@njascu.org

Charlene R. Pipher
Executive Assistant
crpipher@njascu.org

Theresa M. Toth
Secretary
tmtoth@njascu.org
Contact Info
New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities
150 West State Street
Trenton, New Jersey 08608
Email: info@njascu.org

Phone: (609) 989-1100
Fax: (609) 989-7017

2011 Public Opinion Polling

Voters See Public Colleges and a Priority Investment Linked to Jobs and Future Prosperity, But Don't See a State Plan

NJ likely voters say state colleges and universities are key to economic recovery, merit more state investment to fulfill this role, and are trusted to make educational and financial decisions.  However, these public institutions need to do more to show the public they are working hard to contain costs and keep tuition affordable -- a big concern of Jersey residents, many of whom have experienced economic setbacks.  Read press here See poll results.


 

Poll indicates a New Jersey "disconnect":  Voters See Public Colleges as a Priority Investment Linked to Jobs and Future Prosperity, But Don't See a State Plan

According to a scientific public opinion survey by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB), Washington, DC, office for New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities (NJASCU) the state's likely voters say that New Jersey's state colleges and universities are key to economic recovery, merit more state investment to fulfill this role, and are trusted to make educational and financial decisions.  However, the polls show that these public institutions need to do more to demonstrate that they are working hard to contain costs and keep tuition and fees affordable -- a big concern of Jersey residents, many of whom have experienced economic setbacks.

The results are taken from an online study, focusing squarely on New Jersey's nine state colleges and universities, conducted by PSB March 31 - April 4, 2011 of 750 New Jersey likely voters.  The margin of error for this study is plus/minus 3.58% at the 95% confidence level.

College investment tied with jobs, economic development.  The vast majority (95%) of likely voters think it is important for the state to have a plan to connect higher education with jobs and the economy.  A 57% majority said they were not aware that the state has such a plan.

Most residents seem to understand the need to invest in higher education. Among likely voters, 57% strongly agree that excellent and affordable state colleges are vital to New Jersey's economy.  More than 60% say they are likely to support investment in college and university facilities, including a bond issue of $1.3 billion or $2.6 billion.  Better than four out of five likely voters agree -- and 39% strongly agree -- that the state should provide consistent, predictable support to state colleges and universities so they can make long-term plans.

Colleges viewed as high quality, but affordability concerns deepen.  Citizens recognize the education at state colleges and universities is of high quality:  14% say quality is excellent, 67% say good, 17% say fair, and 1% say poor.

Likely voters were divided about the affordability of state colleges; citizens' perception that college remains affordable continues to slip in the bad economy.  In the current poll, 51% say the colleges are not affordable (not very + not at all), while 42% say colleges are somewhat affordable, and 7% say the colleges are very affordable.  By comparison, in 2007, 16% of residents said state colleges were not affordable.

Many of those surveyed (38%) accurately responded the current state college tuition and fees rate range (above $10,000 but below $15,000), although approximately the same share think that tuition is above $15,000.  (Note:  the question specified "excluding room and board").  While citizens support helping others through student financial aid, 38% of likely voters think financial aid to those at NJ state colleges benefits "people like me and my family."  A majority (62%) respond that such programs "benefit others but not me and my family."

Beyond state investment, productivity is key to affordability.  While the colleges have been cutting costs, improving productivity, and finding new revenue to supplement lost state funds, much of the public may be unaware of these efforts.  Twenty-two percent (22%) of likely voters say that the main reason for tuition increases is colleges' inability to cut back on spending.  A large segment of the public cites state budget cuts as the chief reason for tuition increases (32%).

Confidence in trustees is strong.  The majority of likely voters favor giving college trustee boards, rather than the legislature or state agencies, the freedom and responsibility to manage personnel, operations and programs.  Four out of five believe that more Trenton control will lead to more political interference.

As in past PSB polls, citizens are far more likely to trust college presidents and the nonpartisan trustee boards than state bodies and agencies to make the best decisions for institutions.  For example, when it comes to decisions about planning and facilities construction, trustee boards are favored over state entities nearly 2:1, and they are favored 3:1 when it comes to decisions regarding managing employees.

Scholarships should not restrict choice.  The public is not at all keen about state student financial aid programs that are limited to one type of New Jersey college.  Seven out of ten likely voters say that state-funded scholarships should be available to students attending any New Jersey college or university.  Another 21% say scholarships should be limited to those attending four-year colleges, and 9% say they should be limited to those attending county/community colleges.

Capacity problem understood.  Better than four out of ten (42%) of likely voters are aware that New Jersey state colleges have to turn away students.  Several of the questions showed that a majority of residents favor investing in state colleges and universities to serve more New Jerseyans. 

Other questions covered in the poll include factors contributing to student graduation rates, perceptions about spending on higher education compared to spending on K-12 education, and importance of addressing New Jersey's (nation's worst) loss of high school graduates to out-of-state institutions (net 30,000 per year).

To see results of 2011 poll, click here.

 

 


Poll Results - ASCU-sponsored polls by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates

2005

2007

2009

2011