America's colleges are harming the country, the majority of Republicans now say. It's a strong downward slide in public opinion that, some experts fear, could exacerbate growing divides among Americans and lead to higher levels of student debt.

The conclusion, from a report by the Pew Research Center in Washington, based on a June survey of 2,504 adults, reflects a reversal from just two years ago, when 54 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning Americans said colleges and universities had a positive impact on the way things were going in the country. Now, 58 percent say the opposite: that higher education institutions...

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