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 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. 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
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
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