Sunday, January 27, 2008

Georgians See Higher Education as Key to Success

Almost all Georgia residents (98 percent) say that a college education is either very important (83 percent) or somewhat important (15 percent) for an individual to succeed in life today, according to the latest Peach State Poll. When considering the importance of higher education, quality is the most important concern. A majority of Georgians (55 percent) said that they would not compromise quality for wider access to Georgia’s colleges and universities.

At the same time, Georgians have a very high opinion of the institutions of higher education in the state. Twenty-one percent of the public rate Georgia’s colleges and universities as excellent, and another 57 percent rate them as good. In addition, 27 percent rate the colleges and universities in the Atlanta/Athens area as excellent, and 48 percent rate them as good. Only 3 percent rated the colleges and universities in both Georgia and those in the Atlanta/Athens area as poor.

Consistent with their support for higher education, a majority of Georgians’ with children who have not yet completed high school (61 percent) have started saving for their children’s college education. Household income is a factor. While 67 percent of those with household incomes exceeding $30,000 have started saving, only 38 percent of those with incomes lower than $30,000 have.

The Peach State Poll is a periodic survey of public opinion conducted by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

Other Peach State Poll results:

Household income is a factor in saving for college. While 67 percent of those with household incomes exceeding $30,000 have started saving, only 38 percent of those with incomes lower than $30,000 have.

For those with household incomes below $30,000 and for those with no college degree, access is more important than quality.

Commensurate with their belief in the importance of education, 80 percent of those with children say that the eldest is very likely to attend a four-year college or university, and another 12 percent say that it is somewhat likely.

Without the Hope Scholarship, only 33 percent of Georgia residents think that a college education in Georgia is either very affordable (4 percent) or somewhat affordable (29 percent).

These data were taken from a Peach State Poll survey conducted between November 19 and December 2, 2007. The poll included 800 telephone interviews of randomly selected adults in Georgia. For a sample of this size, the margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level is +/-3.5 percent.

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government, a public service and outreach unit of the University of Georgia, has as part of its mission to provide policymakers with systematic, objective research to inform policy decisions. In accordance with that mission, the Peach State Poll aims to give voice to the public on important policy matters and issues pertaining to political, social and economic life in Georgia.

For more information on this survey or other Peach State Poll results, see www.vinsoninstitute.org/peachpoll.

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