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High student debt levels and the cost of a college education are fueling what Gallup is calling a crisis in higher education.

“Confidence in higher education in the U.S. has decreased significantly since 2015, more so than for any other U.S. institution that Gallup measures,” says Stephanie Marken, writing recently on the pollster’s website.

The result, she argues, will be a continuing decrease in enrollment and an increased number of private colleges and universities closing in the near future.

The report shows that problems with affordability in higher education are nationwide. New Jersey is especially struggling with college affordability, losing more college-age students to out-of-state institutions than any other state.

As noted in NJBIA’s The Education Equation report, New Jersey had the fourth-highest tuition and fees in the nation for public four-year institutions in the 2016-17 academic year.

According to Marken, the problem has caught the attention of colleges’ governing boards nationwide.

“College and university trustees and board members — many of whom are intimately familiar with higher ed’s services, operations and impact — remain concerned about the industry’s future, despite being more confident in their own institution’s future,” she writes.

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