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Gallup-Purdue, Year Two: Grads Feel College Debt Is Mostly Worth It

Keith Cooper

Even though the average American student racks up $35,000 in college loan debt, the vast majority believe it’s worth it.

That’s the key finding among the 30,000 college grads polled in this year’s Gallup-Purdue Index.

More than three of every four grads agree or strongly agree their college’s cost did not outstrip the value of a diploma later in life.

Brandon Busteed, who lead’s Gallup’s education polling, says he’s surprised only 50-percent strongly agree with that.

“I would never rate a university solely on how many graduates feel their education was worth the cost, but I do think it’s an important question to throw in the mix," Busteed says. "And it’s an interesting one, because far fewer college graduates strongly agree with that question than we thought we would see.”

But he says there are some schools who can charge almost whatever they want, because their perceived value is so high.

“Some, like the great brands of Harvard, some people would argue that it doesn’t matter what they do, they’re still going to have a great brand," he says. "People are still going to want to pay for it, want to go there. But as it comes to Gallup-Purdue Index findings, those are institutions that in some ways have nothing to gain – or at least they don’t think they have anything to gain, because people assume they’re doing fantastic.”

The findings could be seen as a blow to lawmakers like State Budget Committee Chairman Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville), who’s railed for years against rising college costs and even once held funding for Indiana University and Purdue University hostage until those schools’ leaders agreed to hold the line on cost increases.

Only 10-percent of those polled say the cost of their education outstrips the eventual value of their degree.

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