Most Floridians believe a Bachelor’s degree or higher is necessary for economic and workforce success, according to a new survey conducted on behalf of Helios Education Foundation and the Florida College Access Network. Despite trailing white Floridians by double digits in degree attainment, the view that a college degree is necessary for success is most strongly held by Hispanics and Blacks.
The survey found 65 percent of Hispanics, and 58 percent of Blacks said they believe that a Bachelor’s degree is needed for success in the future workforce, compared to just 50% of white Floridians. And while most Floridians surveyed (58 percent) believe that all students can achieve a postsecondary degree regardless of race and socioeconomic status, Hispanic and Black Floridians were more likely to strongly disagree.
A number of barriers to college education were cited by those surveyed, especially cost, and survey participants said they don’t believe that high schoolers are adequately prepared for college. Blacks and Hispanics were least likely to view a college education as affordable and most likely to cite cost as a barrier to attaining a credential beyond high school.
“Hispanic and Black Floridians will make up a majority of the workforce by 2030, so it’s critical for Florida that we close the attainment gap among these groups,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO of Helios Education Foundation. “By helping more students overcome barriers to degree completion we strive to ensure educational equity for all students, ensuring Florida benefits from a richly diverse workforce.”
Sixty percent of those surveyed said they believe that any student who wants to pursue a college degree or credential beyond high school should have access to that education. And half of those surveyed agreed that equity is a top issue when it comes to ensuring that Florida has a strong workforce for the future. An overwhelming majority of parents (94%) across all races and ethnicities believe at least one of their children will go to college, with the percentage going up as parents have more education themselves.
Most Florida college students (53 percent) are from lower-income households and qualify for the Pell grant and other forms of need-based financial aid. But many, especially those who might come from families where college is not the norm, may not know how to navigate the system to overcome barriers and gain access.
“Research has suggested time and again that paying for college is the biggest barrier keeping students from attaining a degree, yet every year Florida students leave millions of dollars in Pell Grants on the table,” said Charleita M. Richardson, Executive Director of Florida College Access Network. “These survey results show that, now more than ever, Florida students and families need the supports to successfully move through the college application and financial aid processes.”
The survey of 1,688 Florida voters was conducted for Helios by Sachs Media Group July 27-August 3 with a 2.5% margin of error and a 95% confidence level.