Helping News                                                   August, 2012 Issue 49

Americans View Higher Education as a Right
ACA July, 2012 newsletter
The Morrill Act was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War and was a significant force in the creation of land-grant university system in the U.S. The Carnegie Corporation of New York used the sesquicentennial anniversary of that enactment to release a poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted online in early June on their attitudes about higher education.

The key findings of the Carnegie poll:

Three out of four Americans (76%) believe access to higher education should be a right with nearly half (46%) of those responding saying that they feel strongly about this. Just 20% feel higher education is not a right and 9% feel that way strongly. 

Two-thirds (67%) of survey participants believe that the cost of college in the greatest barrier to high education. 

Other deterrents to college enrollment were 
poor high school grades (6%), lack of 
encouragement from family, teachers, and/or 
counselors (6%), and work/job obligations (6%). 
Lack of information about financial aid, family 
obligations, not taking prerequisite courses, 
lack of knowledge about how to apply, and 
being too far from home are not viewed as 
barriers---each receiving 4% or less. 

Speaking at a Carnegie sponsored event in Washington, DC to celebrate 150 years of progress inspired by the Morrill Act, Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation told participants that land-grant universities must show exemplary leadership in controlling costs and make the college experience affordable for students and families. He also emphasized the role of technology in promoting access and opportunity throughout the admission and enrollment process.

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