The Campaign for Free College Tuition's latest survey, conducted in July, finds Americans in all demographic and political groups support making public colleges tuition-free. We tested three different proposals for free college tuition and all of them received at least 73 percent overall support, which is statistically identical to our January/February 2021 poll.
While Democratic support for tuition free college was nearly universal — ranging from 92 to 94 percent depending on the programs construct — Republican support for the three program designs ranged from 55 percent for the means-tested four-year federal program that President Biden has proposed to 65 percent for the administration’s proposal to provide two years of free community college tuition to individuals looking to learn and improve their skills. Independent support for that particular federal program was 76 percent. Independents supported the other tuition-free programs at 69 percent.
The most popular idea was for “a federal program that provides two years of free community college tuition to individuals looking to learn and improve their skills.” It garnered 80 percent support overall, including 49 percent who supported the idea strongly. The same questions in our January/February poll received 81 percent overall support with 51 percent strongly supporting the idea. Democrats (94 percent support), Millennials aged 25 to 44 (91 percent support), Asians (88 percent support), and Americans with an annual family income of less than $35,000 (88 percent support) were the demographic groups most supportive of this idea.
The poll also found 76 percent overall support for “your state providing free tuition at public universities or colleges for anyone who is academically qualified.” In the sixteen times CFCT has polled this question since December 2016, overall support has ranged from 70 to 81 percent. The current results are statistically identical to our September 2020 poll showing 76 percent overall support and our January/February 2021 poll showing 75 percent overall support. In the current poll, African American respondents were the only demographic to prefer this statement (86 percent overall support) over the statement regarding a federal program that provides two years of free community college tuition to individuals looking to learn and improve their skills (82 percent overall support).
Overall support of a federal program that makes public four-year colleges and universities tuition-free for individuals with a family income below $125,000 was 73 percent, again nearly identical to the 72 percent result in our January/February 2021 poll. The leading subgroups for this idea were Democrats (92 percent support), Plurals aged 18 to 25 (84 percent support), African Americans (83 percent support), and Hispanics (83 percent support).
The polling was conducted in July, 2021 in partnership with CollegeAPP, PSB Research and SurveyGizmo with 1,002 respondents age 18+. The sample has a Margin of Error of +/-2.9% and was weighted to US Census on age, gender, race, educational attainment and region of the country.
Our goal is to make higher education a possibility for every American, without regard to their financial circumstances.
We have a lot to do and not much time to do it, so your support is critical for our campaign to succeed. It’s with your investment that we can fundamentally reform how higher education is financed in this country, opening the doors to a more equitable society.
If you agree with our goal, our plan, and the urgency of the problem, we ask that you give what you can to help us write the next chapter in our nation’s history of continuously expanding access to universal, free education.