Gallup Poll: Americans Want Employers to Help Pay Their Tuition

By Susan Jones | May 2, 2013 | 8:10 AM EDT

An 'Occupy' protester complains about high tuition costs at a protest in 2011. (AP Photo)

( - As college tuition keeps rising, so does student debt.

Asked about ways to make higher education more affordable, 59 percent of Americans "strongly agreed" that colleges and universities should reduce tuition and fees; and 46 percent said companies should provide more assistance to their employees.

Forty percent said the federal government should provide more assistance; 38 percent said state governments should provide more; and 38 percent said community-based scholarship organizations should provide more assistance.

The findings are from a Nov. 9-Dec. 4, 2012, study by Gallup and the Lumina Foundation, based on a random sample of 1,009 U.S. adults.

The same survey found that Americans have a strong demand for education beyond high school. They says that having a post-secondary degree or credential is very important to getting a good job and to boosting their earning potential.

Other survey findings:

Three in four workers say their employer does not provide financial support to the children of employees to pursue education beyond high school. Another 59 percent say their company does not provide financial support to their employees for enrollment in higher education courses.

The relative bright spot, according to Gallup, is that nearly half of all American workers say their employer does allow workers to exercise flextime to pursue more education, although more than half (51 percent) said this is not an option.

The bottom line, according to Gallup: "Americans are convinced of the importance of acquiring post-secondary education or learning. While the majority of Americans generally support increased government assistance to help students pay for college, more respondents believe lowering tuition costs and having employers step in to help their employees obtain advanced learning are the best approaches to addressing the high costs."

Gallup released the findings a few days after former U.S. Education Secretary Bill Bennett discussed his new book -- "Is College Worth It?" -- on Sean Hannity's Fox cable show.

As reported, Bennett said it's a mistake for so many students to go to four-year colleges: "I think some of them should go to two-year colleges, some of them should work for a year, some of them should join the military. Consider the options before you get into that level of debt, think about what you are doing."