Just over a third think higher education is a net win. 40% think it isa a zero-sum game (with student loans) and just over a fifth think it is a less than zero sum game, thus it provides negative utility. Honestly, many people attend and thus have no earnings for a few years and student loans to pay back after. It is better to be a barista in which student loans do not subtract from your after-tax pay, ceteris paribus. Many that do graduate have student loans and have worked for 4 to 8 years and earned nothing except a permanent indenture (a student plus possibly a Parent Plus loan too. Some may have to care for an ailing feeble mother or father while they try to earn the money for their mortgage, car loan, Parent Plus loans for their kids and cover their parent’s Parent Plus loan. As their parent’s household has high medical bills and their home desperately needs a roof due to “deferred maintenance”. Many that have a new diploma find there is work (provided the unemployment rate is low) but none of the available jobs they qualify for are ones in which a college degree is needed. So low net pay after tax/student loans.
Then there is partisan acrimony. Fascist and others prefer to remove tenure and the academic freedom of professors. It is true of college, by the fact that you meet new people of various sociocultural and economic/ethnic backgrounds does on its own tend to lessen both reactionary prejudice and the conservative unwillingness to have at least some mild or tepid change to advance society is a better direction, more enabling of human flourishing, and hopefully ecosystem and biodiversity flourishing as well.
So, by strict definition classroom information and research is not in the interest of conservative and reactionaries. Education tends to select for the advancement of middle of the road or a mild liberal viewpoint. One does not attend college to lean to create revolutionary change, they do not teach that. Even if perchance civilization or even Homo sapiens are in an existential polycrisis. Do not even go to lean something essential such as the best ways to organize a union for better working conditions or how to create a mass citizen’s movement to stop the erosion of civil liberties. If you prefer democracy to oligarchy, if you think having the best democracy money can buy is not likely the optimum political economy, college will not give you a viable toolkit full of for tactics and methods to outhwart the plutocrats. Heck, they fund the university… One final thing, even if you do learn a small amount towards making a better system, you will likely earn very low pay as an organizer for change. A student loan could be the difference between extremely poor diet and a good one, and between terrible housing and adequate housing in a school district that is not down the toilet. All of that can make for a very short stint in trying to effect a better future or even one slightly less dire. LS