Survey: Americans Demand Choice When Making Educational Investment Decisions

A new study conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Career College Association (CCA) shows that the American people overwhelmingly believe that the government should not interfere with their educational investment choices. Specifically, 63% think that the decision of how much debt one can take out to pay for education should be left up to students, regardless of debt-to-earnings ratios.

In anticipation of new Department of Education "gainful employment" regulations obstructing students’ access to federal aid, this poll demonstrates the need to pull the emergency brake and reevaluate the proposals.

"It’s no surprise that aspiring students do not want the government meddling in their educational decisions. No one should ever be told that higher education is not attainable on the count of financial limitations. Federal regulators are attempting to mandate arbitrary and widespread rules limiting educational opportunities to thousands, and the public is having none of it," said Harris N. Miller, president of the Career College Association.

Additionally, at a time when a large majority (80 percent) wants to either increase or maintain current levels of Pell Grant funding, the federal government now may be cutting access to hundreds of thousands of potential students. These students simply want to make their own decisions where to attend school, and 76% of those polled agree that students who receive Pell Grants should have that freedom of choice.

Other findings in the poll include:

  • Only 26% of those who agree that debt should be tied to earnings believe a debt-earnings ratio should be based on salary through the first three years immediately following graduation; 74% said a debt-earnings ratio should, at a minimum, encompass the first seven years of earnings;
  • 74% of U.S. adults believe placement rate for an institution is an important indicator of the quality of a higher education institution; only 44% believe default rates on student loans are an important quality indicator;
  • 87% said that the Pell Grant program should be funded to allow the same number, or more, low income students to attend a college or university;
  • 80% of those who agree that debt should be tied to earnings said that if a debt-earnings ratio were to be established, such a ratio should be applied to both career-focused and academic-focused fields and programs.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States between September 1-3, 2010 among 2,258 adults (aged 18 and over) by Harris Interactive on behalf of CCA via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

About the Career College Association
The Career College Association (CCA) is a voluntary membership organization of accredited, private postsecondary schools, institutes, colleges and universities that provide career-specific educational programs. CCA has more than 1,800 members that educate and support over one million students each year for employment in over 200 occupational fields. CCA member institutions provide the full range of higher education programs: master’s and doctoral degree programs, two- and four-year associate and baccalaureate degree programs, and short-term certificate and diploma programs. Visit CCA at CCA will change its name to the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) on September 22, 2010.

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit


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