College funding isn’t a hot button issue in the current presidential election, but it should be. So says the National Education Association, whose president, Dennis Van Roekel is urging candidates to take note that the rising cost of college tuition is a “potent ingredient in the economic anxiety brewing within the electorate, especially politically undecided parents.”

NEA’s latest survey finds 70 percent of college student parents say making college more affordable was an important issue to them in the upcoming election; 34 percent said it was the most important issue to them.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, college enrollment has gone up 17 percent since 2000. Still, the issue of rising tuition costs, as Van Roekel points out, has been a “sleeper pocketbook issue of the 2008 campaign.”

A majority of survey respondents say college affordability is a national issue and the federal government should play a substantial role in addressing skyrocketing tuition costs.

“In the midst of the current economic turmoil, it has been easy to lose sight of the difficulty faced by thousands of low- and middle-income families when determining how they can possibly afford college. This survey reflects that those difficult discussions are not lost upon the majority of American families who are forced to make tough choices that not only impacttheir children’s future, but the future of America in terms of our global competitiveness,” said Robert M. Brandon, Coordinator of the Campaign for College Affordability.