WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Half of college alumni "strongly agree" their educations were worth what they paid, a new Gallup-Purdue University poll found.
The survey -- which polled about 30,000 college alumni -- aimed to determine if U.S. colleges provide enough opportunities and experiences to make tuition costs worth it and to find out if advanced education helps students "find good jobs and prosper financially as well as pursue their passions and lead healthy, fulfilling lives."
Alumni answered with a resounding "maybe."
"Given that many families invest heavily in higher education for their children, there should be little doubt about its value," the survey found. "However, only half of graduates overall [50 percent] were unequivocally positive in their response, giving the statement a '5' rating on the scale ranging from strongly disagree  to strongly agree . Another 27 percent rated their agreement at 4, while 23 percent gave it a 3 rating or less."
The findings suggest the type of institutions attended, whether an Ivy League college or a state university, has little bearing on satisfaction. But the level of student satisfaction drops sharply, to 26 percent, among those who attended private for-profit schools, likely due to the high level of student debt. The average student loan balance after graduation is about $30,000, but students who attend for-profit college often rack up more debt.
The study, which Gallup plans to repeat annually, also found if working graduates had a memorable experience with a caring, encouraging professor, the graduates' odds of being engaged at work more than doubled. But only about 14 percent of graduates reported having such a professor.