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September 03, 2013 12:38 PM Americans Say State Colleges Are Unaffordable

By Daniel Luzer

Americans agree: public colleges are too damn expensive.

That’s according to a new Huffington Post/YouGov poll. As Tyler Kingkade writes,

A majority, 62 percent, said they believe most people are not able to afford the cost of a public college education, according to the poll results. That sentiment held true across party lines, and respondents who had a college education were more likely to say public college costs are unaffordable.

And they’re right. A recent piece at Mother Jones shows that public college tuition increased 71 percent in the last decade. (Room and board costs at all colleges are also increasing.) During the same period state spending on public higher education has dropped 30 percent, while enrollment in these institutions increased 34 percent.

It’s worth pointing out that we can’t compare this directly to an earlier time. Though colleges have become much more expensive in the last 30 years, Americans might still have found the prices too high back in the 80s. They kept paying.

The poll also indicates that some 30 percent of those surveyed supported replacing college tuition with a “Pay it Forward” plan, now proposed in Oregon, where students would not pay up-front fees but, rather, pledge to commit a percentage of their income after college to pay for their education.

Such a plan would not reduce the actual cost of college but transfer payment for college to working adults with a college education.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer

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