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
According to a new, 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
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
The results are taken from an
online study, focusing squarely
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
Colleges viewed as high quality, but affordability concerns deepen. According to Dr. Darryl Greer, NJASCU's CEO, affordability is an especially big concern because people don't want to be locked out of state colleges by their economic circumstances. 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.
Greer says that the perception of college affordability is shaped by several factors: estimations of costs and student aid to cover costs; awareness of the pace of increases over time; and changes in personal economic circumstances.
The poll found that about one-half (51%) of likely voters had experienced at least one personal setback (e.g., job loss, pay cut, reduced hours) over the past year. Greer added, "While citizens are basically correct about the rising cost of college, they do tend to overestimate the cost, sometimes by 50% or more."
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.
Most 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
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
The public is not at all keen
about state student financial
aid programs that are limited to
one type of
Capacity problem understood.
Better than four out of ten
(42%) of likely voters are aware
Low support for in-state tuition
for undocumented students.
The public has moved, over the
past six years, toward a less
favorable view of granting
in-state tuition rates to
undocumented, but otherwise
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.
2009 Public Opinion Polling
The New Jersey Association of
State Colleges and Universities
(ASCU) sponsored a poll
conducted between September 30
On the importance of, and
quality of, education at
86% said the colleges
are important to keeping
good jobs in
79% said the colleges
are important to keeping
NJ families in
|n||91% said they have a favorable view of the NJ state colleges and universities (32% very favorable; 59% somewhat favorable);|
|n||Very favorable ratings were 37% among those with children under 25.|
82% said the nine
Control over colleges, accountability and trust. More than four out of five (81%) agree that less government bureaucracy and less state regulation would help the colleges and universities be more efficient and serve more students.
Nearly four out of five (79%)
agree that if the state is going
to invest more money to support
higher education and serve more
New Jersey students, nonpartisan
boards of trustees and the
presidents should make the
decision, as opposed to "letting
the governor decide how to spend
the money" (11%), or "letting
state agencies in Trenton decide
how to spend the money"
Similarly, seven out of ten (71%) say that, when it comes to future progress on college affordability, quality and accountability, they trust state college/university presidents and their nonpartisan trustee boards, as opposed to the governor (12%) or legislature (7%).
A majority of likely voters
think that if
Student enrollment and capacity, ties to the economy. Many likely voters mistakenly think that state colleges serve large numbers of out-of-state residents. Only 16% said they thought the colleges enroll fewer than 10% out-of-state students -- which is the case. 39% said the percentage of out-of-state students was 11-20%; 33% said it was 21-30%; 12% said it is 31% or more; 2% think it is 41% or more.
Likely voters support the need to expand college capacity: 92% agree that NJ students should have the opportunity to live on campus at the state college or university of their choice; 82% agree that expanding capacity will help keep NJ's brightest students here; 86% agree that expanding college access will help create new jobs and businesses and expand NJ's economy.
College affordability and tuition trend lines, causes. Likely voters are split about whether the cost of education at the nine state colleges is affordable. Very affordable was listed by 9%; somewhat affordable 43%; not very affordable 38%; and not at all affordable 10%.
Likely voters do not hold colleges responsible for tuition increases. 45% think it is the bad economy and state budget cuts; 19% attribute it to rising costs of new programs and technology; another 19% believe the cause is state mandated costs and regulation. Only 18% believe that it is the inability of colleges to cut back on spending.
Financial aid. 41% indicate that financial aid for students at state colleges and universities is available to most students; 59% say that it is not.
70% say financial aid "benefits others, but not me and my family;" while 31% say financial aid "benefits people like me and my family."
Need for state investment. When asked whether the current NJ funding for a college student (about half what is spent per student in K-12) is appropriate, only about one-third surveyed (34%) agreed. Two-thirds (66%) think that spending on college students should be greater than it is now.
Similarly, when asked whether the state should have a plan to invest in higher education facilities (it currently has none), in light of the state's current investment of $3.9 billion in K-12 construction, 77% of likely voters agreed that the state should plan to spend somewhere between $1.3 and $3.9 billion on higher education facilities over the next decade.
Too see results of poll, click here.
Poll Results - ASCU-sponsored polls by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates