Economy making more of a difference in college choices Costs found to be a big factor in students' choices.

January 13, 1992|By Knight-Ridder

The faltering economy apparently is making it harder for college students to go to the schools of their choice.

A survey of college freshmen around the country shows more are selecting a school on the basis of cost. The survey also shows that more are going to college because they cannot find a job. Also, making money is becoming a more important part of the decision to attend college.

Those are among the findings in a recent survey of 210,739 college freshmen at 431 schools around the country. The survey, released today, is conducted annually by the American Council on Education and the University of California-Los Angeles.

"Taken together, these figures suggest that neither financial aid nor personal or family resources are keeping pace with the costs of attending college," said Eric L. Dey, a UCLA researcher.

The survey found that the percentage of students who selected a college on the basis of low tuition had jumped from 23 percent in fall 1990 to almost 28 percent last fall.

The number who chose a college on the basis of how much financial aid it offered also rose, from 25 percent in 1990 to almost 28 percent last fall. Those who picked a school because it was close to home went from 20 percent in 1990 to 21 percent in 1991.

More than 7 percent of those surveyed said they went to college because they were unable to find a job, the highest percentage since the last recession in 1982.

Nearly 38 percent said there was "a very good chance" they would have to get a job to help pay for college expenses, and nearly 5 percent said they expected to work full time during college.

Given the difficulty in paying for a college education and uncertainty about the economy, it's not surprising that nearly 75 percent of those surveyed reported that making money was a "very important" reason for their decision to attend college.

The figure was the highest since 1971, when the question was first asked on the survey.

Support for a national health-care plan also reached an all-time high in 1991, with nearly 76 percent of the freshmen saying they endorsed the idea.

Sensitivity to the problem of date rape is growing on campus, the survey found.

A record-high 87 percent of those surveyed said they agreed with the statement "Just because a man thinks that a woman has led him on does not entitle him to have sex with her." Men, however, were three times more likely than women to disagree with the statement.

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