More than half of U.S. adults say higher education fails to provide students “good value” for the money they and their families spend, a survey found.

That assessment comes in a report, “Is College Worth it?,” released today by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center. The organization, an independent research group, surveyed 2,142 adults, ages 18 and older, from March 15-29.

The report follows a call by President Barack Obama for the U.S. to achieve the highest college graduation rate in the world by 2020. The U.S. now ranks 12th among 36 developed nations, according to a report last year by the College Board.

The debate over higher education’s value “has been triggered not just by rising costs but also by hard economic times,” according to the report.

That said, 86 percent of college graduates said that schooling had been a good investment for them personally. College graduates said they earned an average $20,000 a year more because of their degrees, a figure that closely matches U.S. Census Bureau data, the survey found.

Just 19 percent said the U.S. system of higher education is the best in the world, and 7 percent said they believe it will be the best 10 years from now.

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