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70 percent of Americans strongly endorse college education, poll shows

By
Allen Cone
Americans place a high priority on college education despite rising costs. Photo by Calvste/Shutterstock
Americans place a high priority on college education despite rising costs. Photo by Calvste/Shutterstock

PRINCETON, N.J., April 12 (UPI) -- The majority of Americans strongly support the value of education beyond high school, according to the latest Gallup-Lumina Foundation poll.

The percentage of Americans who view having a degree or certification as "very important" stood at 70 percent. This figure has held steady near 70 percent since 2012 amid declining college enrollment and growing support of presidential candidates to help students pay for the costs.

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Black and Hispanic people, who possess lower levels of degrees than whites according to the National Center for Education Statistics, place a greater value on postsecondary education than white people. It's 79 percent among African Americans and 78 percent for Hispanics compared with 67 percent of white people.

As support of college education remains strong, student debt is rising. Total student loan debt in the United States jumped by $29 billion to $1.23 trillion nationwide, the New York Federal Reserve reported in February.

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Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have presented comprehensive plans to help borrowers eliminate the debt.

Clinton mainly wants to refinance student loans at current rates available to students taking out new loans.

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Sanders, who has proposed free education at universities for everyone, also wants to refinance rates but he also would lower interest rates. He has specifically stated that he wants to "stop the federal government from making a profit on student loans."

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Republicans aren't as vocal on the issue.

Donald Trump has written and spoken out broadly against student loan debt. And Ted Cruz hasn't spoken publicly on the topic but he is in favor of the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, which ensured all federal loans would be tied to financial markets and placing a cap on rates.

In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich has proposed a $120 million college debt relief fund to help borrowers repay their loans.

The fifth annual Gallup poll on Americans' opinions about education was conducted Oct. 1-Nov. 5 with 1,616 U.S. adults, including 300 blacks and 302 Hispanics. The margin of error was 3 percentage points.

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