Published: Dec. 17, 2012

Most Michiganders think college education is important

Contact(s): Jennifer Orlando Media Communications office: (517) 353-4355 cell: (517) 980-0076, Cynthia Kyle IPPSR office: (517) 353-1731, Charles Ballard Department of Economics office: (517) 353-2961

A large majority of Michigan adults – regardless of gender, race or political affiliation – believes a college education is important for a successful career, according to the latest State of the State Survey from Michigan State University.

About 72 percent of those questioned said a college education is very important for Michigan’s young people to be successful in the labor market

“These results are encouraging, because they show that Michigan’s people understand what has happened in the U.S. economy over the last 40 years,” said Charles Ballard, MSU economics professor and director of the State of the State Survey.

In 2009, Massachusetts ranked first in the nation in the percentage of the population with a college degree, and Massachusetts was second in per-capita income. Michigan was 36th in college attainment and 40th in income. Mississippi was 48th in college attainment and 50th in income.

“The economy has changed in ways that have greatly rewarded those with a college education, so that college attainment is the most important factor in determining which states have the highest incomes,” Ballard said.

Although the survey shows a strong belief in the importance of college education, the survey also reveals a widespread concern about whether college is affordable, Ballard added.

Nearly 68 percent of the participants disagreed with the survey statement “at today’s levels of tuition and financial aid, a college education is reasonably affordable for people in Michigan.”

The phone survey was conducted from Aug. 23 to Oct. 10. A total of 1,018 interviews were completed in the quarterly survey of Michigan adults 18 and older.

The Michigan College Access Network sponsored the questions about the importance of college in the State of the State Survey.

MSU’s State of the State Survey has been conducted by the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research since 1994. IPPSR is a unit of MSU’s College of Social Science.

Charles Ballard, professor of economics and director of MSU's State of the State Survey

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