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Gallup/Lumina Foundation Poll Reveals Need for Higher Education Redesign; Americans Call for New Solutions to Make Education Accessible and Affordable
[February 05, 2013]

Gallup/Lumina Foundation Poll Reveals Need for Higher Education Redesign; Americans Call for New Solutions to Make Education Accessible and Affordable

WASHINGTON --(Business Wire)--

According to new results released today from the annual Gallup/Lumina Foundation poll, Americans are ready for a renewal of our nation's higher education system. They overwhelmingly believe that institutions should reduce tuition and fees and want to see a new system of credentials and credits that is defined by learning and competencies rather than time.

"The Gallup/Lumina poll shows that the vast majority of Americans believe that increasing college attainment is essential, while at the same time recognizing that significant change is needed in the current system," said Jamie P. Merisotis, president of Lumina Foundation. "Americans want a more accessible and affordable system of higher education, one that does more to recognize and reward the personal skills, knowledge and abilities that are genuinely valued in the workplace and can be linked to future learning opportunities."

A summary of key findings from the Gallup/Lumina Foundation poll includes:

Americans want a new system of credentials that is focused on learning outcomes and competencies:

  • Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they believe students should be able to receive college credit for knowledge and skills acquired outside of the classroom.
  • Seventy-five percent indicated they would be more likely to enroll in a higher education program if they could be evaluated and receive credit for what they already know.
  • Seventy percent don't believe learning should be time based and agree that if a student demonstrates they have mastered class material in less than the traditional 16-week session, they should be able to get credit for the course without sitting through the entire 16 weeks.

Americans want help addressing the costs of higher education:

  • Sixty-eight percent believe that companies should provide more assistance to employees.
  • Sixty-seven percent of respondents said that higher education institutions should reduce tuition and fees.
  • Fifty-nine percent indicated that state governments should provide more assistance. Fify-five percent said that the federal government should provide more assistance.

Americans see value in education beyond high school, and many plan on returning to earn a degree:

  • Ninety-seven percent said it is important to have a certificate or degree beyond high school.
  • Those respondents who do not have a certificate or degree beyond high school agree that if they did, they would feel more secure in their job (58 percent) and in their financial future (64 percent).
  • In the last year, 41 percent of Americans have thought about going back to school to earn a degree or certificate, with 42 percent of those saying they are very likely to do so.

More Americans see education costs as a barrier and they are concerned about quality:

  • Only twenty-six percent of respondents believe that the cost of higher education is affordable to anyone who needs it.
  • Twenty-seven percent indicated that the quality of high education is worse today that it was in the past.

"The American higher education system is failing the country and educators must make today's college and universities more productive and accessible," said Paul J. LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University. "A new approach to credentialing can help, because if we know with certainty that someone has mastered a discipline, it shouldn't matter how that person got there or what school they attended."

For a complete summary of the Gallup/Lumina Foundation poll go to:

Gallup conducted 1,001 interviews in English only from November - December of 2012, with a random sample of adults, aged 18 and older, residing in landline-telephone households, cell phone-only households, and cell phone-user households. Up to three calls were made to each household to reach an eligible respondent.

The data set was statistically adjusted (weighted) using the following variables: race/ethnicity, gender, education, and age as defined by the most recent data from the Current Population Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The final overall results are representative of the U.S. adult population.

The questionnaire was developed in consultation with representatives from Lumina Foundation and Gallup. All interviewing was supervised and conducted by Gallup's full-time interviewing staff.

About Lumina Foundation: Lumina Foundation, an Indianapolis-based private foundation, is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college-especially low-income students, students of color, first-generation students and adult learners. Lumina wants to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. For more information, log on to

About Gallup: Gallup delivers forward-thinking research, analytics, and advice to help leaders solve their most pressing problems. Combining more than 75 years of experience with its global reach, Gallup knows more about the attitudes and behaviors of the world's constituents, employees, and customers than any other organization. For more information, log on to

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