A growing number of Americans think that college costs are rising so rapidly that higher education will soon be unaffordable to most people, according to a new poll.
A Gallup Poll released last month shows that 87 percent of respondents believe that most people cannot afford a higher education, up from 82 percent in 1986.
More people also say they will be able to afford college only with grants or low-interest loans, the survey says. About 74 percent responded that way this year, compared with 70 percent in 1986.
But while Americans are more discouraged over the prospects for paying for higher education, the survey also suggests they are attaching greater importance to college in terms of future success. It notes that 73 percent of the respondents consider a college degree very important to obtain a job or advance in a career, compared with 58 percent in 1986.
The Gallup organization telephoned 1,012 people this summer for the poll, which was conducted for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
Copies of the survey, "Attitudes About American Colleges 1991," are available for free from CASE External Affairs, Suite 400, 11 Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. 30036-1261.
The University of Arizona is offering classes by mail to 7th and 8th graders, in a program the school calls the first of its kind sponsored by a university.
The school's Middle School Correspondence Program offers home courses in English and mathematics to middle-school students who want to accelerate their studies or who cannot complete regular coursework.
The program began this semester, according to its coordinator, Leslie Dykstra, who added that correspondence courses previously were offered only to high-school and college students.
For more information or a copy of the correspondence catalog, dial 1-800-955-8632.
The Madison Center for Educational Affairs has published what it describes as a "politically incorrect" guide to higher education.
Like other guidebooks, "The Common-Sense Guide to American Colleges" contains information about tuition, enrollment, and course offerings.
It also assesses "the politicization of the classroom, the obsession with race and gender, the fragmentation of the curriculum, the decline in civility, and the passivity of college administrators" on each campus.
Chester E. Finn, a professor of education and public policy at Vanderbilt University, served as an editorial adviser on the project, which has been endorsed by former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett. --M.P.